Basketball season is underway and things are looking up for the Zebra squad. It started with a heartbreaking buzzer-beater last Friday against Glenpool, but that was just a minor setback. In basketball, sometimes the ball goes in the basket, and sometimes it doesn’t. You are going to lose games you should win and you are going to win some games you were supposed to lose. What defines a team is the game after a tough loss, or in this case the Vinita Tournament. Well early in this season, the Zebras showed they will respond, learn from the loss and not dwell on it, and be better the next day. That is exactly what they did at the tournament, and as a coach that is all you can ask.
The Zebras started off the tournament on Thursday against Jay. Jay is notorious for being a team that grinds, just a tough group. Well in this case they were not tough enough as the Zebras won 56-48. That put them into the semi-finals against a tough Pauls Valley team. Again, the game was close through three quarters, but the Zebras were tougher when it mattered most in the 4th quarter. With that being said the Zebras prevailed 66-53 and moved into the finals to play a very good Stillwell team. The boys showed up and played hard, but came up short in the finals finishing 2nd place. I would say that is a successful weekend, and a great way to jump-start this young season.
Another great win for the boy’s team was Jase Lagers. Jase was named to the all-tournament team, and also named the Zebras Boys’ Basketball player of the week. Jase is one of the seniors on the team and doing a great job leading the team in the right direction. The team has a few other seniors, Parker Hardage, Cade Chancellor, Kort Sidel. When I asked Coached Nolan about this group he said “without all of the seniors we would be lost as a team. All of them have emerged as leaders and have done a great job of adjusting to much larger roles than they had last year.” I also asked him about the new kid on the block, Will Jones. Will came to us all the way from Georgia. I asked Coach Nolan what he is bringing to the Zebra formula and he answered: “Will immediately fit into this group and has brought a lot of toughness and stability with his hard work and consistent play.”
With the early success and after talking with the coach, I am excited to see what this group is going to do this year. If you have not got out to see them yet, you need to put it on your calendar. What you will see when you attend is the boy’s giving everything they have to a game they love. I am not sure if they will win or lose, but I am sure you will see them outwork whomever they play. The Zebras bring a fast game where they get out and run and try to score as many points as they can. They play an in-your-face defense and make you earn everything. It is a show and worth the price of admission. You have two chances this week, Tuesday at Collinsville or Friday at night against Coweta at the Claremore Expo. Good luck Zebras.