High schools: Discussing the 6A split, basketball surprises and football coaching moves

Putnam City West is No. 1 in Class 6 boys basketball. U.S. Grant and Capitol Hill looking for head football coaches.
by Scott Wright Published: January 19, 2014
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photo - Putnam City West’s Marquis Johnson, right, drives past John Marshall’s C.J. Smith during the Putnam City Invitational last week. Johnson averaged 10.7 points per game in the tournament, and had 13 points in the Patriots’ win over top-ranked Tulsa Union. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Putnam City West’s Marquis Johnson, right, drives past John Marshall’s C.J. Smith during the Putnam City Invitational last week. Johnson averaged 10.7 points per game in the tournament, and had 13 points in the Patriots’ win over top-ranked Tulsa Union. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Topics of conversation have been broad lately, so it seemed like a good time to address the three most popular — the potential Class 6A split, the biggest surprises of basketball season, and the future ramifications of the football coaching carousel — in question-and-answer form:

Will the Class 6A split in all sports actually happen?

Too early to tell. Dr. Dick Balenseifen, the Putnam City Schools athletic director, put a lot of work into the proposal he presented to the OSSAA last week, which suggested the need to split the 32 Class 6A schools into two 16-team divisions in all sports, based on the number of championships won by the 16 largest schools as compared to the 16 smallest.

The number is pretty staggering: 87 percent of all state titles over the last 16 years have gone to the largest 16 schools, according to Balenseifen's research.

And that number is the bedrock of his argument. But Balenseifen and his supporters know they have a lot of work left to do if they're going to get the OSSAA fully on board with his idea. There's a lot of support for the idea, especially from the schools outside the top 16, for obvious reasons. But there are a lot of hurdles left to clear before the proposal will ever go out to a vote of the member schools involved.

The item will be up for discussion and possible action at the February board meeting, and the direction it goes from there will be most telling of its potential success.

What has been the biggest surprise of the first half of the basketball season?

My initial reaction is to say the Putnam City West boys, who are now No. 1 in Class 6A, but in reality, I've been more impressed than surprised by them. The Patriots were No. 2 in The Oklahoman's preseason poll, and knocking off Tulsa Union was impressive — but not a huge surprise. That team has a lot of talent and a really good coach in Lenny Bert. The ceiling is high for the Pats, not just this season but in the future as well.

So, as for actual surprises, the Choctaw girls would fall into that category. They've hit a couple speed bumps against really good teams lately, but showed enough to prove that the 9-0 start wasn't a fluke. Now at 10-2, they've moved into the top 5 in Class 6A, and deservingly so.

And I'll add the Centennial boys to the list of surprises as well. Not the fact that they're having success, but the fact that they're unbeaten and have hardly been challenged through 14 games. The Bison have a pair of two-point victories. All the other wins have been by 12 points or more.

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by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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