Often, a good basketball team will draw off the personality of its coach.
The Midwest City boys team not only drew from coach Dewayne Bradley's personality, those qualities turned out to be what made them a great team.
“He's a real fiery dude,” senior guard Cornell Neal said of Bradley, The Oklahoman's Super 5 Coach of the Year. “He always wants to win. He's gonna make sure he puts you in the right positions to win, and he expects us to go get the job done.
“Fiery and relentless. That's what we played like as a team this season, to be so little and to play so big.”
Fiery and relentless, yet controlled. The latter is probably the most impressive quality, considering the lack of control that often comes with the first two.
Bradley's team controlled egos to play with a balanced, team-first approach. They controlled their emotions, despite playing an intense, aggressive style that could have pushed them over the emotional edge.
That control allowed them to stay on their game plan, which was to frustrate opposing offenses with in-your-face defense that created easy Midwest City points.
The Bombers were never fazed when they became ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, nor when USA Today ranked them No. 13 in the nation. They handled expectations and pressure well, and they never panicked against teams with more size — which was most of their opponents, considering the Bombers' starting lineup regularly included only one player taller than 6-foot-1.
Ultimately, the Bombers came up one play short of a state championship, losing to Edmond Memorial at the buzzer in the title game.
Despite that disappointment, Bradley says it was a fun season.
“The bottom line is, we lost that last game, but it was a great year for us,” he said. “We were so consistent, and the reality was, they were fun to watch and fun to coach, because they played so hard, and shared the ball and played so unselfish.”
With many players who have been getting varsity experience over the last three seasons, the unselfish attitude came naturally.
“They had all been in the program since they were freshmen, and they expect that. That's just the way they play,” Bradley said. “But their chemistry was very, very good, and I think that allowed us to play even more unselfish, because they trusted each other so much.
“It's a process, but it wasn't hard to get these kids to play that way.”