Friday, December 9, 2011

Eighth graders show promise

Unfortunately, I don’t get to see the younger teams and players of LeFlore County play all that much.

The varsity sports are a priority and there is only one of me to go around.

I do enjoy watching the younger teams play so I can get a sneak peek at the future Pirates, Bulldogs, etc.

So I ventured out to Pansy Kidd Middle School Thursday to watch the finals of the junior high tournament, prompted by a text from a friend who had high praise for the teams in the finals.

It was Spiro vs. Roland for the girls and Poteau against Sallisaw for the boys.

I wasn’t disappointed, that’s for sure.

In the first game, Spiro and Roland paired off and both teams have a player who could dominate once they reach the varsity.

For Spiro, it was Carleigha Thompson. She has the talent to be one of the better players in the county. Thompson scored 29 points in the game, 17 in the first half as Spiro grabbed a halftime lead.

As good as Thompson was, Roland’s Mikiah McDonald had a better game. McDonald scored 19 points in the third quarter alone as she led the Lady Rangers’ comeback in an eventual 50-43 win for the championship.

McDonald finished with 39 points, 26 in the second half, outscoring Spiro as a team in the final two quarters.

That set the stage for the boys’ championship. Poteau has an outstanding team and group of players in the eighth grade, both in basketball and football, where the Raiders went undefeated this season.

This group has not lost a game against a team from its own age since the sixth grade. On this night, the Raiders had an off night from the field, which several people pointed out.

But their quickness and pressure wore down the Diamonds and the Raiders used a 25-3 run to grab control of the game and they won their own tournament, 34-21.

The Raiders are loaded. They have size, speed and depth. They are the best eighth-grade team I have seen since the Poteau group from two years ago that are now sophomores dominated the county.

In two years, when this group joins up with the current sophomores on the varsity, Poteau could have something special, possibly the best team the Pirates have had in a while.

And it is easy to see why the Spiro girls and Poteau boys got the top seed in the upcoming LeFlore County junior high tournament which tips off on Jan. 2.

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