TULSA With one of the most important basketball victories in MacArthur history still fresh on their memories, the Highlanders come to T-Town tonight to begin their bid for the Class 5A State basketball championship, bracing for a matchup with Noble.
Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. at Sapulpa High School, which is located at No. 3 S. Mission Blvd. in Sapulpa.
The Highlanders will be making their fifth trip to state under the reign of head coach Kevin Harrington who is now in his 20th year as the head coach and 30th combined at the east-Lawton school. While they've made those trips to state, they've never brought home the gold ball.
Is this their year?
"I think we have an excellent chance," Harrington said. "Last week we showed we can beat the good teams by taking care of (No. 1) McGuinness in their own backyard. That may very well have been the biggest win since I've gotten here because of what McGuinness has been in basketball; they won the title last year and have been No. 1 all season.
"The way our kids bonded together late in that game, to rally around each other showed me a great deal about this club. When they were getting ready to shoot big free throws they would huddle and encourage each other to succeed. They found a way to win together, as a team and that is what it's going to take up here to win a couple of games and give themselves a chance to play for the title.
"And it's not just the players, our staff (Brandon Kephart, Melvin Hoskins) is really close-knit and that carries over to the players. When you are all working together, it's easier to get things done. We've had a good week of practice and we're ready."
One thing that will help the Highlanders against Noble is that they got a chance to see them in person at the Midfirst Warrior Classic in Anadarko.
"We've seen them and they have a very good big man, about 6-6, who is probably their most athletic player," Harrington said. "They also have a couple of good shooters (No. 33 and 21) on the perimeter that we are going to have to prepare on defense. We can't let them get comfortable out there.
"They are on a pretty good roll with three straight wins. But this is a little new to them, it's their first trip to state in some time. How that affects them is something we won't know until we get on the floor. But they deserve to be at state; they're playing well."