Prepare to read a seemingly obvious statement: Putnam City has a pretty good basketball team this year.
With the powerhouse tradition coach A.D. Burtschi has built over the years — four championships in the previous 10 seasons — fans expect to see the Pirates in the top 10.
If you look at the makeup of Burtschi's past teams, you'll see a mix of senior leadership and elite prospects. That's where this year's team is different. Very different.
For starters, they have no seniors, and it's hard to have senior leadership without seniors.
The Pirates have a talented group of young players who are going to be Division I prospects, but there's not a kid like Marques Hayden or Xavier Henry or Dominique Raney — guys who enticed a steady flow of major D-I scouts — on the roster right now.
But there is talent, some of whom could find their way to that major-college level.
The Pirates announced their presence on Friday night with a victory that reminded fans and opponents alike to never forget how dangerous they can be.
PC received 21 points from David Bush and 20 from Ronnie Boyce — a pair of juniors who will be heard from on the recruiting circuit — in a 74-59 win at No. 4 Edmond Santa Fe.
“We don't have any seniors, so more work falls on the juniors like me and Ronnie and Orlando Goldsmith,” said Bush, a speedy 5-foot-11 combo guard. “We got to play a lot last year, so we're the guys who have to step up and be leaders.”
The sophomore class includes players such as 6-foot-5 banger Kairo Rutledge, shooting guard Stephen Edwards and even point guard Dexter Dean, who, despite being 5-foot-5, has shown he can handle big-time 6A competition.
On the court, the Pirates are blessed with versatility. They can go with a more traditional two-forward set, use only a single post, or play to their quickness with a five-guard look.
When you're relying on so many young players, there will be hiccups, like the two-loss outing at the Bixby Tournament earlier this month.
And there could be some more learning experiences this week at the Wildcat Holiday Classic in Pensacola, Fla., against some strong out-of-state competition. The Pirates begin action Monday against Pensacola-based Escambia High School.
But here's the key that will keep PC around in March: they play Burtschi ball. Hard work on defense, team first on offense. The latter quality hasn't always come naturally to some recent Pirate teams, but this year appears to be a different story.
“Since we're so young, we know we have to work harder to get there at the end of the year,” said Goldsmith, an athletic 6-foot-6 forward. “Most other teams have seniors to rely on. We're the youngest team coach Burtschi has ever had.
“We're not great yet, but we're gonna get there.”