Wyandotte boys’ coach Paul Duncan just plans to “wing it” during Thursday’s Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament Boys’ Gold game against the Roland JV.
“They are always an unknown,” Duncan said.
Roland’s junior varsity team was plugged into the mix last week when Bartlesville Wesleyan dropped out.
The JV Rangers won the Boys’ Bronze bracket last year with a 45-43 victory over Chetopa, Kan.
They also were the Boys’ Silver winner in 2003, going 3-0 in round robin play.
Forty teams are in the field for the 65th edition of the tournament.
Games will be played in the NEO Fieldhouse, the NEO Student Activity Center, the Civic Center, and for the first time, the Miami Activity Center.
The corporate sponsor for the tournament is AT&T.
Bracket sponsors include Security Bank, Arvest Bank, First National Bank, Osborn Drugs, the Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and Welch State Bank.
“I was much happier with the draw I’d had than the draw I got,” Duncan said. “Personnel-wise, I don’t know much, but stylewise, we have an idea. He (veteran RHS coach Eddie Lewis) does the same thing year in, year out. His kids always play hard”
The Bears warmed up for the tournament Tuesday night with a 44-38 victory at Quapaw.
“I am really happy with our group,” Duncan said. “We’ve been getting some good bench play here and there. The kids who have been playing quite a bit for the last couple years are playing well.
“I haven’t had to talk about effort at all,” Duncan said. “We’ve played hard every night. That’s been a plus.”
Dakota Sparks, a 6-3 senior center, is the Bears’ leading scorer and rebounder.
“He’s averaging a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds), which is impressive considering he’s had two knee surgeries in the last year and a half.
D.J. Butterfield, a 5-10 senior guard, averages 10 points and 5 rebounds, while 6-1 senior Derek Durborow is averaging 10 points and 4 boards.
Tuesday’s win over Quapaw was the sixth straight for the Bears dating back to before the holiday break.
“We always try to point towards the NEO tournament as the time to start putting the pieces together,” Duncan said. “We don’t want to peak too early.”
Butterfield, 5-10 senior D.J. Burleson and 5-9 sophomore Dalton Pogue have rotated at point guard.
“Everything flows through Dakota and it goes from there,” Duncan said.
The Bears, who have played in the tournament every year, have won four NEO titles. The most recent was in 2005.
They’ve also been champs in 1961 and 1952.
When do we play?
Afton — Girls vs. Roland JV, Civic Center, 3 p.m.; boys vs. Foyil, CC, 4:30 p.m.
Bluejacket — Boys vs. Watts, Miami Activity Center, 3 p.m.; girls vs. Grove JV, Miami Activity Center, 4:30 p.m.
Fairland — Girls vs. Tyro (Kan.) Christian, MAC, 1:30 p.m.; boys vs. Tulsa Wright Christian, CC, 6 p.m.
Welch — Girls vs. White Oak, NEO Fieldhouse, 3 p.m.; Boys vs. Roland, NEO Student Activity Center, 7:30 p.m.
Wyandotte — Girls vs. Tulsa Wright Christian, SAC, 3 p.m.; boys vs. Roland JV, NEO, 6 p.m.
Miami — Girls vs. Chetopa, Kan., MAC, 6 p.m.; boys vs. Tulsa Lincoln Christian, MAC, 7:30 p.m.