The Girls’ Round Robin bracket at the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M High School Basketball Tournament should be intriguing.
Three of the four coaches — Terry Carris of Guthrie, Barry Hudson of Durant and Bobby Walters of Roland — reiterate the same point: “We’re young.”
The fourth team in the bracket — Grove — starts three seniors, a junior and a sophomore.
“This group works extremely hard,” said Richard Bassett, who is in his second season as the Lady Ridgerunners’ coach.
While at Picher-Cardin, Bassett guided the Lady Gorillas to seven NEO tournament titles: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
The Lady Ridgerunners are 3-3, including a 50-39 loss to Roland in the first round of the Tahlequah tournament.
Grove’s Tuesday night game at Miami was scrapped because of the weather.
“We miss Margaret (6-0 post Margaret Pogue), but Kat Johnson (a 5-10 sophomore) is averaging 16-17 points a game,” Bassett said. “She’s done well. We’re just turning the ball over too much.”
Roland is the only 4A school in the mix. The others are 5A.
Grove won its first-ever NEO title last year when it went 3-0 in the Girls’ Gold bracket.
The Lady Ridgerunners opened with a 58-47 win over Guthrie, nipped Roland 67-64 in overtime, then held off Miami for a 51-48 decision to nail down the championship.
Durant was 3-6 heading into Tuesday’s game at Byng.
“We’re really young — we start four sophomores,” Hudson said.
The Lady Lions went 20-7 a year ago, reaching the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade. They ambushed Claremore in the first round but lost to Midwest City Carl Albert in the semifinals.
“We’ve got a good group,” Hudson said. “We will be OK.
Four of the losses have been to Coweta, Putnam City North, Edmond North and McAlester.
Hudson was tipped off about the tournament by former Lady Norse coach Darin Grover, who is in his fifth season as women’s coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University — which is located in Durant.
Also, Hudson said former Durant all-stater Regan Browne made a couple of visits to NEO before opting for East Central University.
Guthrie was looking for its first win of the season Tuesday when it battled Noble.
“We still haven’t played at home,” Carris said. “We’re real young.”
Alexis Daniels, a 5-5 senior point guard, has been the Lady Jays’ leader. She averaged 7.4 points a game last season.
Guthrie’s only other starter back is 5-10 junior Allyson Chadd. Chadd showed potential inside as a sophomore, grabbing 9.9 rebounds while scoring 4.8 points.
Roland is off to a 6-4 start, but three of the losses have been against Muldrow, Union and Broken Bow.
“We let one get away against Cedarville, Ark.,” said Roland coach Bob Walters, who prepped at Bluejacket when his father was coach there in the 1980s.
“We blew a 16-point lead,” Walters said, noting that the Lady Rangers were 6 of 15 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
“We have only two girls who played any last year,” he said.
The 65th edition of the NEO tournament runs Jan. 21-23 at four Miami locations — the NEO Fieldhouse, NEO’s Student Activity Center, the Civic Center and the new Miami Activity Center.
Forty teams are entered, down from last year’s 52.
The Lady Ridgerunners are among four defending champs back.
Also back for another run are the Afton girls and Springfield (Mo.) Central and Roland boys.
Girls’ Round Robin
Thursday — Durant vs. Roland, 6 p.m., SAC; Grove vs. Guthrie, 7:30 p.m., NEO Fieldhouse
Friday — Guthrie vs. Roland, 6 p.m., SAC; Grove vs. Durant, 7:30 p.m., SAC
Saturday — Guthrie vs. Durant, 3 p.m., SAC; Grove vs. Roland, 6 p.m., NEO Fieldhouse