Fairland was one of two champs in the inaugural Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament.
The Owls hope to commemorate the occasion with their eighth overall title in the 65th edition of the event, which tips off Thursday at four Miami locations.
“Our chances are probably as good as anybody,” Fairland coach Justin Goins said. “We’ve got everybody back from last year. I don’t know much about those other teams on the second-round game, but Wyandotte is on the top end.”
The Bears topped Fairland 66-57 when the teams battled on Jan. 9.
The Owls open tournament play Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center against Tulsa Wright Christian in a Boys’ Gold bracket game.
“I haven’t found much about Wright,” Goins said.
He said assistant coach Ryan Caudill has been scouring the internet to get some information on the Wildcats.
Also on Fairland’s side of the bracket are defending Boys’ Blue champ Springfield (Mo.) Central and Fayetteville (Ark.) Christian.
The Bulldogs and Fayetteville Christian play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the NEO Fieldhouse.
Teams on the upper half are St. Louis (Mo.) Christian, Riverview Bible Baptist Academy of Forsyth, Mo., Wyandotte and the Roland JV boys.
Roland stepped in at the last minute when Bartlesville Wesleyan backed out earlier in the week.
Goins was surprised when told Fairland had won the first NEO tournament, beating Picher 31-21 back in 1946.
“I didn’t know that,” he said. “I have lived here all my life but never knew that.”
The Owls’ most recent title was in 1997. They also have taken home NEO trophies in 1983, 1968, 1963, 1948 and 1947.
Fairland improved to 9-2 with a 60-42 victory over Commerce Friday night.
Central went 3-0 while winning the Boys’ Blue bracket for the second straight year.
But the Bulldogs are in a rebuilding mode.
“We graduated a lot of kids off that team,” Central coach Eddie Thomas said recently. “We’ve got a whole new bunch starting.”
Central slipped to 5-9 on the season when it suffered a 50-35 loss to Springfield Kickapoo on Tuesday night.
Wyandotte, which faces the Roland JV Thursday at 6 p.m. in the NEO Fieldhouse, bumped its record to 7-4 with a 57-42 victory over Bluejacket, also on Tuesday.
The Bears are 6-0 in the Lucky 7 Conference, sharing first with Welch.
Forty teams are entered in this year’s tournament, including three other defending champs: the Roland boys and the Grove and Afton girls.
Roland, ranked 11th in Class 4A, suffered just its second loss in 14 games Friday night when it fell 56-53 to 4A No. 19 Stilwell.
Afton won its 12th NEO title while Grove took home its first.
First-time entrants include the St. Louis Christian Academy boys and girls and the Durant girls.
The Miami Activity Center will be added to the gymnasium rotation this year.
Games will also be at the NEO Fieldhouse, NEO’s Student Activity Center and the Civic Center.
The two NEO venues will be the site for Saturday’s final round of games.