Monday, February 27, 2012

County seniors provided many memories

Another basketball season is coming to a close and with it brings some sadness.

Since this is the third year for the Journal and my third year covering LeFlore County athletes, I have watched many athletes’ last dribble or shot.

During these three years, I have watched them grow in stature, along with skills.

I have watched their wins and losses and shared some joy and some of their disappointment.

I always try to be neutral in my stories and do not try the rah-rah approach. But I always pull for the county kids, at least when they are playing teams from out of the county.

Unfortunately, it will be tough for any county team to win state this year as the six teams left in the playoffs are all in the losers’ bracket. Spiro’s girls came through last year so there is always that chance, but it will be tough.

But they are still winners for being out there.

And the memories are plentiful. I remember Jared Brown of Howe as a sophomore hitting a pair of free throws which helped the Lions upset Red Oak, which came against a defending state champion in the finals of the Eastern Tournament.

Also, I remember Wilson Klutts hitting a shot against a good Heavener team as a sophomore, which pretty much clinched a big win. It was from deep in the corner, like many of his baskets.

I also enjoyed watching Ryan Carter of Cameron grow from a small sophomore to one of the better shooters in the county as a senior. He and his senior buddies such as Austin Standridge, Kenny Whitehead, Dylan Poor and Justin Cox helped the Jackets post one of the best records of county teams over the last two seasons.

The same goes for Grant Severe of Pocola. He was always a good player, but turned his game up several notches as a senior, helping the Indians surprise a ranked Gore team in the districts and playing one of the best games I have ever seen from a county player.

The Wister seniors kept getting better and finished third in the county tournament, along with their success in another round ball. Cody Luman developed into one of the better players in the county as a senior.

I only saw Howe’s girls lose twice over the last three years, both in the LeFlore County Tournament finals before the Lady Lions broke through this year to win the tournament. Those girls helped keep the amazing streak of never losing at home in place for the next group.

I felt a little pain for the Heavener seniors like Sadie Watkins and Jordan Kannady, who were part of dominating teams their first two years before the Lady Wolves struggled this season.

For the Poteau senior girls, it has been a long and difficult ride. After a rough sophomore season, they scored a big upset as juniors over Muldrow in the district tournament and had a tough senior season, until they got hot lately, won district again and are competing in the area tournament.

Nobody would have seen that happening a few weeks ago.

The time has run out for many of our seniors and will shortly for the others. But the memories will remain, long after the uniforms have been turned in for the last time.

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