BIXBY - Experience of one kind will be matched up against experience of another kind Thursday afternoon when Wyandotte's girls battle Keys in a Class 3A Area III tournament elimination game here.
4 Keys is built around four seniors who have one state tournament appearance under their belts.
4 Wyandotte doesn't have the past track record, but it has an intangible that could make a difference - coach Duane Thomas has taken two different schools to state tournaments.
Keys coach Lisa Burton thinks Thomas' past success could be a factor in the game.
“When you have a coach that has the experience of being in that situation, they know how to prepare their players,” she said. “That is a big factor.”
“I hope so,” Thomas said. “Experience is the best teacher. I have told our kids not to just be satisfied with being there, plan on going to win.”
Thomas's Bluejacket teams qualified for the Class B state tournament eight times. His Afton girls qualified for state twice and the boys once.
And his Fairland girls reached the area finals, losing to eventual state champ Carl Albert and Okmulgee in the early days of 5-on-5 play in Oklahoma.
“I have been around a few years and hopefully it will have a calming effect,” Thomas said. “Kids are just kids. We want them to have fun.”
The teams square off in the 1:30 p.m. opener at Whitey Ford Fieldhouse, with the loser going home.
The winner faces either Beggs or Kansas in another 1:30 p.m. elimination game on Friday.
The girls' consolation championship - with the survivor getting a berth in the state tournament - will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Also on Thursday, the Afton and Quapaw girls and Afton boys will be fighting for their lives.
Ironically, when the Lady Eagles and Lady Wildcats play at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, their third meeting of the season will take place in Glenpool.
The Afton boys face Foyil at 8 p.m., also at Glenpool.
Wyandotte advanced with a 54-25 victory over Haskell in the consolation finals of the Adair regional.
The Lady Bears held Haskell to single digits in all four quarters.
“We played extremely well all three games last week,” Thomas said.
They also beat Nowata and Chelsea along the way.
“Wyandotte has an athletic group,” Burton said. “They really depend on shooting the ‘3' and they play good man defense. We know we will have our hands full, but at this point, everyone you play is going to bring their best game.”
The 11th-ranked Lady Cougars (18-5) are built around four seniors, including 5-10 senior twins Lyndsey and Tabitha Lawrence. Lyndsey is averaging 18.3 points per game while Tabitha sports a 13.2 scoring average.
The other seniors on the Keys' roster are 5-6 guard Cassie Blankenship and 5-3 point guard Kaitlyn Rogers.
Jamie Neff, a 5-9 left-handed post, is the Lady Cougars' other key player.
“You've got to pick your poison against them,” Thomas said. “They (the Lawrence twins) are real similar. They are slashers. They are pull-up jump shooters. They are real active on offense and go to the boards hard.”
“We've got a pretty strong tradition,” Burton said. “This is our fifth year as a high school and this group of seniors went to state as freshmen. They've had high expectations ever since.
“They have continued to grow and develop.”
Class 3A Area IV tournament, Bixby
Thursday's games - Keys vs. Wyandotte girls, 1:30 p.m.; Holdenville vs. Chelsea boys, 3 p.m.; Beggs vs. Kansas girls, 6:30 p.m.; Keys vs. Haskell boys, 8 p.m.
Friday's games - Keys-Wyandotte girls' winner vs. Beggs-Kansas girls' winner, 1:30 p.m.; Holdenville-Chelsea boys' winner vs. Keys-Haskell boys' winner, 3 p.m.; Chouteau vs. Tahlequah Sequoyah girls, 6:30 p.m.; Vian vs. Tahlequah Sequoyah boys, 8 p.m.)
Saturday's games - girls' consolation finals, 6:30 p.m.; boys' consolation finals, 8 p.m.
Class 2A Area IV tournament, Glenpool
Thursday's games - Hulbert vs. Oklahoma Union girls, 1:30 p.m.; Porum vs. Okay boys, 3 p.m.; Afton vs. Quapaw girls, 6:30 p.m.; Afton vs. Foyil boys, 8 p.m.
Friday's games - Hulbert Oklahoma Union girls' winner vs. Afton-Quapaw girls' winner, 1:30 p.m.; Porum-Okay boys winner vs. Afton-Foyil boys winner, 3 p.m.; Pocola vs. Oktaha girls, 6:30 p.m.; Pocola vs. Oktaha boys, 8 p.m.
Saturday's games - girls' consolation finals, 6:30 p.m.; boys' consolation finals, 8 p.m