MUSTANG — The Mustang boys basketball roster clearly suggests that the Broncos are a team to watch in the future.
But coach Terry Long stressed to his players after practice Wednesday that he isn't interested in waiting that long.
Neither is Garrett Goble. The Broncos' senior point guard knows his last chance at making the state tournament begins Friday night.
Despite the fact that Long will regularly have a lineup of all freshmen and sophomores on the court, the Broncos are playing to win now.
“We're ready,” said Goble, one of the few contributing seniors on a very young team. “We've been working for this all season. We still have work to do, and we're going to work every single minute we can, and when we get there Friday, we're gonna win that game and keep going.”
The game Goble refers to is Mustang's 6:30 p.m. contest against Bixby at Jenks in a first-round elimination game in the Class 6A playoffs. The winner likely gets Jenks Saturday night in the regional final.
The high school basketball world rocked a little when Long left Douglass after winning his third consecutive state title to take the Mustang job last May.
And the season hasn't always been easy, as the Broncos tried to blend some new, young players with an older core that was learning Long's coaching philosophy.
Then the injuries began to hit. Juniors Colton Hadlock and Joey Snodgrass, both starters, were lost for the season. Others missed a game or two at a time. And a stomach virus made its way around the locker room, too.
But for the most part, Long has as close to a full roster as he's going to get for the playoffs.
Mustang and Moore were the two Oklahoma City-area teams sent to the east bracket for the playoffs — a blessing for both in a year when the west is loaded with state tournament-caliber teams.
“We play in probably the best conference in the state,” Long said. “So either you stay over here and fight with all those guys again, or you go somewhere else and play some other teams.
“We've dealt with some injuries, and guys have stepped in. We've got some older guys with high character who are willing to do what it takes.”
At 14-8 on the season and ranked 13th in Class 6A, the Broncos know they've got some work to do to steal a state tournament berth away from the eastside's top teams.
But to a man, the Mustang players know what they'll have to do to stay alive Friday night and beyond — especially against a strong shooting Bixby team.
“Defense,” said Jakolby Long, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard and Terry Long's son. “We've got to play defense, get back in transition and rebound, and we'll be fine.
“We're ready. We're right where we need to be.”