Head coach Ray West has had some extremely good teams in his tenure at Okarche, but he can't remember one with this much size.
The Warriors have five players taller than 6-foot-3, led by 6-foot-5 Sam Grellner, who averaged 13 points and nine rebounds as a junior last season.
He and 6-foot-4 John Shaefer are the only returning starters from the state tournament last season, but West feels comfortable in his current lineup.
“This is the biggest we've ever been since I've been at Okarche, and that will make a difference for us,” West said. “I feel the guard we have back got a lot of experience. We have a good mix.
“We can put some different styles of teams on the floor and it gives us a versatility we haven't always had.”
West put together one of his toughest schedules as well, a factor he thinks will prepare his team for March.
“I feel like we'll be battle-tested by the time we get to the playoffs,” he said. “We may end up with a few losses, but we'll be better for it.”
FLEWALLEN RETURNING FOR DALE
Dale girls coach Josh Forsyth said he will work junior Jaelin Flewallen back into the lineup gradually after Flewallen missed all of last season following shoulder surgery.
“She's a really good player,” Forsyth said. “She's really talented, and we really could've used her last season, but we'll ease her in.”
The Lady Pirates came close to making the state tournament last season, falling to Tonkawa twice in the playoffs, including in the area consolation final. Both games went down to the wire.
“I think we have a great opportunity to be better than we were last year,” Forsyth said.
Among Dale's returners is senior forward Breck Clark. Clark averaged around 18 points and nine rebounds per game last season.
“She's an inside-outside girl, very aggressive, a good shooter and she goes to the hole strong,” Forsyth said.
Dale opens at home against Preston on Friday.
WELEETKA IN MIX AGAIN
State semifinalists last year with three sophomores in the starting lineup, the Weleetka boys will be back in the hunt for the Class A gold ball. And their first-round opponent in last year's state tournament — Glencoe — hopes to be there as well.
Weleetka returns three of its top four scorers from last season, but brings back a strong nucleus from a team that went 26-3 and lost to eventual champion Cheyenne in the semifinals.
Glencoe started a pair of 6-foot-4 freshmen — Ty Lazenby and Hunter Hall — last season and returns six of its top seven players. Lazenby averaged better than 15 points per game last season.
WALKER, BARRIOS LEAD HAMMON
Hammon's girls return four starters and seven of its top nine from last season's Class B runner-up team.
“It's a very experienced group,” Hammon coach Lance Carpenter said. “They've been through a lot the last couple of years.”
Carpenter has been especially impressed with the improvement of senior guard Erin Burch.
“I've seen more scoring output, and she's looking to score more in our offense,” Carpenter said.
Hammon also returns center Peyton Walker and forwards Kori Barrios and Chania Walker.
Hammon plays at Erick on Friday.
ARNETT'S TUNE A PLAYER TO WATCH
Tyler Tune is a name to remember in Class B basketball this season. The 6-foot-4 junior, one of two returning starters from a state tournament team, can play multiple positions inside and out, which showed in his production last year.
As a sophomore, Tune averaged 21.8 points, 15.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.