Now that he's no longer watching his starting five play football on Friday nights, Bridge Creek basketball coach Jason Sanders is excited about what lies ahead for his team, which is moving up from Class 3A to 4A this season.
The Bobcats qualified for the move up in classification by one-fourth of a student in their Average Daily Membership. It's a tough year to be in 4A, which is led by defending champ Douglass.
â€œIt goes without saying that Douglass is a great team,â€ Sanders said. â€œOur guys will step up when they need to. It's exciting to play against that type of competition.â€
Bridge Creek was eliminated from the football playoffs just over a week ago. So basketball season is still fresh for most of the team's key players, including 6-foot-8 forward Ryan Spangler.
Spangler signed with Gonzaga earlier this month and hopes to show his expanded offensive game this season. He attempted only 26 3-pointers last season, but had several games during the summer in which he made multiple 3s.
HERMANSKI BULKS UP FOR ANTLERS
As a sophomore, Deer Creek boys basketball player Garrett Hermanski showed the potential to be among the best in the state.
Despite his 6-foot-3 frame, Hermanski was pushed around a lot. That isn't going to be the case anymore. Hermanski has put on 22 pounds since last year, said coach Matt Bailey.
â€œHe hit the gym hard. We couldn't keep him out of there,â€ Bailey said.
Hermanski averaged 14 points per game last year. The Antlers are also returning senior point guard Jalen Burnett and senior Jurrell Calloway.
FLEXIBILITY KEY FOR CENTENNIAL
Centennial won't look like your typical basketball team, and coach Scott Raper hopes that works to the Bison's advantage.
With five players on the roster between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-7, Raper has plenty of length to work with, but it's the flexibility those players provide that makes them unique.
The team is led by 6-foot-4 seniors Tyrone Jones and Marcus Johnson, both of whom can play anywhere from shooting guard to center.
â€œWe have a lot of guys who can play multiple positions,â€ Raper said. â€œMarcus can shoot from 23 feet then he can go post you up. Tyrone can shoot the 3 and play inside. We hope that makes us a tough team to match up.â€
And in a wide-open Class 3A, any edge could be enough to put a team in state tournament contention.
â€œClass 3A is completely up for grabs,â€ Raper said. â€œWe want to be one of the eight that's there giving it a shot in March.â€
HARRAH'S GUARDS TO LEAD THE WAY
It certainly looks like the Cache girls basketball team is the favorite to repeat as state champion in Class 4A, but Harrah is hoping it can get another shot at the Bulldogs.
The Panthers were 28-2 last year and lost to Cache in the state championship game. The experience in the post is gone, but it's tough to top the guard play Harrah has.
â€œIt's immeasurable to have that kind of experience at guard,â€ coach Curt Knox said. â€œWe know that's going to be our strength. They're really going to help our young post players develop.â€
Anchoring the team are three guards from last year's club in Chelsea Robinson and the Hobbs twins â€” Jordan and Jessica.
Robinson emerged last year as one of the rising stars, averaging more than 10 points and just under four assists per game.
NO CONTROVERSY FOR MITCHELL THIS YEAR
Last year was a stressful season for Putnam City North girls basketball star Joh'Vonna Mitchell.
After transferring from Millwood following her sophomore season, Mitchell was not deemed eligible by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association until the final week of the season.
That's all she needed. Mitchell played seven games and helped the Panthers to the state tournament. She's ready for even bigger things this year.
â€œI'm so excited because I can just focus on playing this year,â€ Mitchell said. â€œWe've all been working hard.â€
Mitchell will be joined in the post by Alexis Watson.