Thursday, January 21, 2010

My county tournament days

It was some 29 years ago that I retired from competitive sports.

That marked the end of my high school days at old Heavener High School.

Like thousands before and after, I played in the LeFlore County Tournament, not that well, but I did play.

I was part of Heavener teams that competed three years. Well, actually two. We didn’t compete all that well my junior year but I will get to that later.

As a sophomore, I was part of the Rest of the Wolves, buried deep down the bench, called upon only in case of serious foul troubles or because of a blowout.

We had a pretty good team that year with lots of seniors garnering most of the playing time. For the Rest of the Wolves, we found ways to entertain ourselves on the bench such as chatting with cheerleaders for the opposing teams, slapping towels on the ground at inopportune times, rattling the bench by...never mind, and being a thorn in our coach’s side for the most part.

During my three years, we were never one of the teams that drew a bye in the first round. My sophomore year, we played Whitesboro at CASC. It has been way too long to remember scores but it must have been a blowout because I remember playing in the game and we won!

Next up was Poteau, also at CASC. It was a fairly competitive game (since I remember not playing), but we lost. I would like to think things would have been different if I had been summoned off the bench and they probably would have been. The game wouldn't have been that close!

That Poteau team played Spiro in the finals and lost, 71-57.

Ah, my junior year was next, as if. Frankly, we stunk that year. No, we did. No seniors, only juniors and sophomores. Heavener was the host school that year, which made no sense as we were opening the new gym the following year.

Again, Poteau! Not that it mattered who we played. We would have lost unless our opponent was some school for the blind and maimed, and unfortunately no such school competed in the county tournament. We were beaten badly, which came as no surprise. However, the unmighty Wolves did win one game that year!

That Poteau team did win the championship that year by beating Spiro. Somehow, I like to think our competitive effort spurred the Pirates on to the win, but in all likelihood, it was the fresh legs from not having to play too hard to beat us.

And next, of course, was my senior year. We were decent that year, which made sense as everybody was back and we had some good sophomores.

Our first game that year was at Pocola against, uh, Pocola. No, the seeding people were not kind to us. It was a late game against a team that ripped us earlier in the season.

Somehow, we won. Don’t ask me how or why, but the Wolves won! Did we get a break the next night?

Uh, no. Our next opponent was Spiro, fresh off a bye while we were both brain dead and leg dead from playing the late game the previous night. We stayed close to Spiro, not that it mattered in the end. It was actually the closest we played Spiro in my glory days.

And yes, that Spiro team did win the county championship that year over Poteau, 48-26.

There was no losers’ bracket back in those days. You lost and you were done. So overall, our record while playing in the county tournament was 2-3.

Not bad, but certainly not good enough to play in the big stage of the semifinals and finals.

It wasn’t until later that I realized what an honor it was to play in the county tournament. Sure, it would have been nice to walk off with the county championship, but there were always better teams in the way, just like it is and has been for so many before and after.


  1. Good story, Craig. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. - Jim Patterson

  2. I remember passing the ball down the line of the "Rest of the Wolves" when it would come near our bench so we could honestly say we handled the ball that night...

  3. I was a senior when you were a sophomore. Whitesboro was a easy game. We won 75-52. Some of those guys on Whitesboro's team became my classmates the next year at CASC. The Poteau game was tough, I think we actually had the lead in the first half. I remember looking at the stands, and seeing so many people from Heavener supporting us and thinking that I wanted to beat our arch rival so bad. But the second half didn't goes as well for us and we lost by 9 points, 54-45. I attended the finals that Saturday evening. After the games, they announce the All Tournaments teams for boys and girls and I was named All Tourney 2nd team. This was unexpected for me and I was honor to be name. MS