City girls teams feeling confident
After several months of practice, the city high school basketball teams are set to hit the hardcourt at a full sprint this week.
All three girls teams are dealing with losing one of their top two players and will need to find replacements quickly to get out to good starts.
Both Eisenhower and Lawton High opened with wins last Tuesday over Wichita Falls Hirschi and U.S. Grant, respectively. MacArthur's first game is Tuesday at Carl Albert.
Run and gun
When a team doesn't have much height, it usually turns to the 3-pointer for offense.
That's the blueprint the Lawton High is sticking to this year after the departure of Abby Navarro. Last year, she did a little of everything for the Wolverines, but most important was her ability to play in the post.
Lawton High doesn't have any such presence this year as its tallest players are both about 5-7. So, it will be up to the shooters to make the offense go. Luckily, the Wolverines have their top-scorer returning in Bailee Cox. She averaged 14.5 points last year.
"Bailee can get it going offensively and she's a really good defender," LHS head coach Marco Gagliardi said. "I usually give her the toughest task (on defense). Bailee can fill it up and we need her to be at, or exceed last year's points."
Bailee Cox, senior Dottie Henning, junior Caitlyn Cox, freshman Jaylis Phillips (transfer from MacArthur) and Southmoore transfer Haley Eaves are LHS' primary offensive threats. The Wolverines have picked a good year to be small, because they can really shoot it.
Henning and and Caitlyn Cox will be counted on to replace Navarro's production.
"This is the best shooting team I've had. We're going to have to rely more on the 3-ball this year. We will be a different team this year," Gagliardi said. "Dottie and Cat are our biggest girls. They're going to have to play the high-post and defend bigger girls. Both of them can do that."
Caitlyn Cox has missed some preseason workouts since she has been kicking for the football team, which is playing in the finals next week. That experience has turned into a plus, according to Gagliardi.
"Cat's made the leap this year maturity-wise. She's more physical in the post," he said. "(Kicking for the football team) has given her confidence. Hopefully it carries over."
Last year, LHS finished the season an even .500. It was the first time the Wolverines had a .500 or better record since its 20-3 campaign in 2009-10. In order to repeat that, the formula is simple: take care of the ball and defend.
"We need to limit turnovers and take good shots," Gagliardi said. "We're going to be reliant on the 3 so we need to make sure they're good looks. We need to defend well. We need to keep teams under 50 points."
Ike looks for deeperplayoff run
Last season, Eisenhower made it to the area tournament and was just two wins away from making state. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they ran into a streaking Southmoore team led by Serithia Hawkins, a University of Houston commit.
The Sabercats won, 61-74, ending Ike's season and completing several important Eagles' careers.