Coyle's best basketball player, and perhaps the best player in Class B, Tony Aska Jr., is used to competing in State Fair Arena — but as a cowboy, not a Bluejacket.
Aska has participated in several rodeos in the building, but he's never played a basketball game in the Big House.
On Thursday, Aska finally gets his chance as the 6-6 senior forward leads No. 5 Coyle into the Class B state tournament for the first time since 2008.
Aska admits he will have butterflies before Thursday's game, but he does before every game.
“I get nervous every time,” Aska said. “I get nervous when I get on top of a horse and I have been riding horses for 17 years.”
His opponents would seemingly be more nervous. Aska is recording a double-double about every time he steps on the basketball floor, averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds per game. And he's usually playing just three quarters for the 23-4 Bluejackets.
In Coyle's Class B regional final victory against Asher, Aska had a triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Aska, who has 97 blocks on the season, is being recruited by several junior colleges and Division II schools in the state. He has grown 5 inches taller in the last two years.
“His wingspan is incredibly long,” Coyle coach Josh Sumrall said. “Obviously, his presence on the floor is a big deal for us, and it allows us to do some things that not everybody gets to do.”
With Aska playing the post, Coyle can be aggressive with its trapping perimeter defense.
“If someone goes by us, we got a guy with a 6-6 wingspan protecting the rim,” Sumrall said.
Offensively, Coyle likes to get up and down the floor, and Aska is very much a part of the fast break.
“Some post kids, all they can do is stand on the block,” Sumrall said. “He can do more than that. He is pretty versatile and a great athlete, which allows him to play anywhere.
“He runs the floor really well. We get him flying down the floor in transition and he finishes really well.”
Coyle is not just a one-man show, however. The Bluejackets have four players scoring in double figures.
“We got a lot of weapons,” Sumrall said.
Coyle also has been strengthened by Aska's cousin, Eric Harris, who moved to Oklahoma from Chicago during the summer and is the Bluejackets' sixth man.
“I don't think we ever shot a ball together before he moved down here,” Aska said. “Once he did, we clicked like we were born to play together.”
Last year, Aska went to the State Fair Arena for the first time other than a rodeo when he attended the Class 2A state basketball tournament to watch his friend Chance LeBlanc of Preston.
Aska had a courtside view of the game then, but he said, “It wasn't as good of a seat as it's going to be Thursday.”