The Texhoma boys graduated eight seniors, yet the Red Devils are poised to make a bid for a trip to the Class A state tournament.
“We have good numbers every year,” Texhoma coach Greg Higgins said. “We just kinda replace and go again.”
The 20th-ranked Red Devils tackle unranked Welch in an Area I tournament elimination game Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center in Enid.
The Red Devils (20-5) suffered a 40-39 loss to No. 14 Seiling Saturday night in the Area I regional at Mooreland.
Welch (21-5) ran off three straight wins in its regional at Morrison, beating Glencoe, Morrison and Barnsdall.
The 58-52 overtime win over Barnsdall avenged a 54-51 loss to the Panthers in the District 7 final on Feb. 14.
Afton also attempts to stave off elimination in the Class A Area III tournament Thursday at Bixby.
The Lady Eagles, ranked 11th, battle unranked Weleetka at 6:30 p.m. while the 15th-ranked Eagles tackle No. 4 Okarche at 8 p.m.
“We’re doing OK — we’ve had a few bumps along the road,” said Higgins, in his 18th season.
The Red Devils play in the ultra-competitive Panhandle Conference with Beaver, Forgan, Turpin and Hooker.
There was a three-way tie for the conference title between Texhoma, Turpin and Forgan.
“Welch and Texhoma are a lot alike, close to the borders,” Higgins said.
Welch is seven miles from the Kansas state line while Texhoma sits right on the Oklahoma-Texas line — thus the town’s name.
The Red Devils play seven out-of-state schools — Spearman (where former Miami High School boys’ coach Bill Belger is in his eighth year as high school principal), Hartley and Gruber, Texas; Clayton, N.M., and Moscow, Stanton County and Rolla, Kan.
“It’s just because of our location,” Higgins said. “You drive across town and you are in Texas. If we try to play teams in Oklahoma, we drive two hours.”
Goodwell is Texhoma’s closest opponent, 10 miles away.
The Red Devils went 18-5 last year, losing back-to-back games in regional play to state qualifier Laverne and area consolation finalist Okeene.
They graduated eight seniors but have put together three straight 18-win seasons.
Texhoma’s roster includes another four seniors, including three who start — 6-3 Trey Freeman, 5-11 Chad Panquary and 5-9 Derrek Nye.
The fourth senior is 5-10 Eddie Ramirez.
Freeman, Panquary and Nye are joined by 6-4 junior Matt Freeman and 6-3 junior J.D. Pugh in the starting lineup. Pugh and Nye started last year.
“They are athletic,” Welch coach Josh Schertz said. “they are long and lanky, kind of like Barnsdall. They play better defense than Barnsdall, but they don’t shoot the ball as well.”
“We play about eight guys,” Higgins said. “We try to play good defense, pressure the ball, and offensively, we will mix it up a little bit. We try to pressure a little and try to trap. They (the Wildcats) do a lot of stuff that we like to do.”
Junior power forward Joey Powers (6-3) and freshman center Jacob Mount (6-3) have been the two main operatives for the Wildcats.
Powers is averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds per game. He’s also blocked an average of two shots a game.
Mount has contributed 15 points and 6 rebounds each time out.
“It sounds like Powers can do just about anything,” Higgins said. “The freshman (Jacob Mount) looks like he’s a really good player inside and has good moves down low and has a nice shot.”
“It’s that time of year where we can’t make little mistakes,” Schertz said. “We’ve got our responsibilities, and if we forget one time, it’s a lay-up.”