When local basketball teams take the court this week for districts in Classes 2A and 4A, most will be doing so with a significant stretch of days since their last game.
The playoffs get under way this Monday for 2A, 3A and 4A and resumed on Saturday for Classes A and B.
When Kingfisher hosts Elk City on Tuesday, it will be the first time the Jackets and Lady Jackets have played since hosting Anadarko on Feb. 5.
That will be a stretch of 18 days.
The teams were supposed to play four regular season games in the week that followed the Anadarko date, but a series of factors forced the cancellation of them all.
For the Kingfisher boys, the district game will be only their second since Jan. 29.
“The guys are ready to play,” said KHS head coach Jared Reese. “It’s hard on them to do nothing but practice over a long period of time and not have the reward of a game in there somewhere. When Tuesday comes around, we may be rusty, but I know they’ll be excited to play a game.”
Kingfisher’s teams aren’t alone.
Crescent and Hennessey also play district games on Tuesday.
Crescent hasn’t played since Feb. 4, which will be a 19-day layoff.
Like Kingfisher, Hennessey hasn’t played since Feb. 5.
Cashion played its last regular season game on Feb. 12, but received a bye in its 2A district.
When the CHS teams play Thursday in a regional, it will have been 12 days between games.
Okarche has seen its share of long layoffs this season.
When the Okarche boys played their district opener last Friday, it was their first game in 17 days. The Lady Warriors didn’t play until Saturday, making it 18 days for them.
Lomega went nine days between the end of its regular season and its district games while Dover “only” had to wait a week.
• Having the two-week gap - or more - could prove valuable for the teams.
That provided a full quarantine period if a team had come across a case - or multiple cases - of COVID-19.
Although the long layoff wasn’t planned by ALL the local schools, it mostly worked out that way.
If it happens during the playoffs, the season is likely over if enough of - or the entire team - is forced to quarantine.
• As far as OSSAA postseason rules go, if a team is unable to play its next game due to COVID, the team it was scheduled to play will receive the forfeit win and advance to the next round.
• Nobody in the foreseeable future - if ever - is going to catch Jett Sternberger’s school-record of 2,037 career points at Kingfisher.
Bijan Cortes had an out-side shot, but losing the last four regular season games - plus potentially three games at the state tournament last season - all but eliminated that possibility.
However, Cortes, Matthew Stone and Jarret Birdwell could break one of Sternberger’s many remarkable records as a Yellowjacket.
W h e n
Sternberger graduated in 2019, he was a part of 103 wins (and two state championships) in his four years.
First of all, although we’ve seen more of it lately, suiting up for four years on a 4A team isn’t commonplace.
Sternberger started all four of his years (as have Cortes and Stone).
As they prepare to enter the playoffs, this year’s trio of four-year lettermen have a career mark of 100-4.
If you’re like me, you can easily pick out the four losses.
- Their freshman year, it was the state championship loss to Heritage Hall (2018).
- The next year it was the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions against Booker T. Washington, which went on to win the 6A state title.
- Last year it was the area championship against Bethany.
- This year it was the finals of the Edmond Open against Edmond Memorial, which was and is again the top-ranked team in Class 6A.
If people can pinpoint every loss in your career, you’ve had a heck of a career.
They’ve won 96 percent of their games (96.1538 to be more exact).
If the Jackets win a regional championship (without earning a forfeit), they’ll tie Sternberger’s 103 wins.
If they get a win beyond that, they’ll have broken his mark.
• By the way, Sternberger is at Rogers State now. His team on Thursday night suffered a 10-point loss at UCO, but he scored a career-high 28 points in the process.
He’s started in all but one game of his career (he’s now a sophomore) and that was due to injury.
Sternberger is currently averaging 12.8 points a game for the Hillcats.
• Like Kingfisher, Lomega’s girls are ranked No. 1 in their class.
The Lady Raiders enter their regional tournament with a 21-0 record.
State titles are nothing new in Lomega and undefeated seasons, although rare, are not unheard of.
Lomega is the proud owner of 14 titles, a record among girls programs.
The 1983, 1987 and 1991 teams went undefeated on their way to winning Class B crowns.
However, this year’s team can still make its own bit of history.
Should the Lady Raiders repeat as state champs and do so without losing, they’ll be the first Lomega squad to do it in the 5-on-5 era.
• Now, if Kingfisher’s boys somehow lose out of the playoffs before winning three or four more games and/or if Lomega doesn’t win a state championship and/or go undefeated, I guess you can look at this column and put the blame solely on me.