Jeff Cali Sports Editor email@example.com
Ada — The Ada High basketball boys basketball team was off to a good start.
The Cougars had themselves ranked in the Top 10 in Class 4A.
Junior Cory Kilby had exploded for a career-high 38 points in a semifinal win over McLoud in the Global Productions Basketball Tournament at Bethel High School.
It seemed like coach Ron Anderson had his team heading into the right direction.
However, the finals of that tournament — rescheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 8:20 p.m. — were iced out and the Cougars headed to a long Christmas break. All that momentum came to a screeching halt.
After 18 days without a game, Ada traveled to Tecumseh Tuesday night before getting ready to host the 2014 East Central Oklahoma Classic, sponsored by McDonald’s, that begins Thursday inside the Cougar Activity Center.
Anderson said he’s more than anxious for his team to play three games in three days.
“We need to play,” he said. “Our rematch with Tecumseh and our tournament is just the medicine we need.”
It’s not that the Cougars were idle over the break. In fact, Anderson said it was one of the most productive holiday breaks he’s had.
“We probably had one the best Christmas breaks of practice and scrimmages since I’ve been here,” he admitted. “We still need to improve on some areas, but we got better over the break and the guys are ready to play.”
The boys East Central Oklahoma Classic field is as tough as ever. Defending ECOC champion Stillwater (No. 12 in Class 6A) is back to attempt a repeat. Shawnee (No. 17 in 5A), which handed the Cougars their only setback of the season, is the No. 2 seed. Class 6A schools Sapulpa and Ponca City are also capable of pulling off an upset on a given night.
Ada is the No. 3 seed in both the boys and girls bracket.
“It will again be one of the toughest and most competitive high school basketball tournaments in the state,” Anderson said.
The girls and boys teams from Ponca City have been a part of the ECOC for over 20 years while Shawnee, Choctaw and the Sapulpa boys have also been longtime regulars.
The Guthrie girls and the Newcastle boys will be making their first ECOC appearances and the Durant boys and girls are returning for the second year.
The Shawnee Lady Wolves (No. 1 in Class 5A), coming of a championship run at the 2013 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic, will try to win their second tournament in Ada this season as the top seed and defending champion of the ECOC. Choctaw (No. 5 in Class 6A) in the No. 2 seed while Guthrie (No. 13 in Class 5A) and 6A school Stillwater also have a chance to contend.
“Once again this tournament is loaded with quality teams and great coaches,” Anderson said. “We have tried each year to have a mixture of small and large size schools competing in this tournament. Stillwater boys and Shawnee girls return to defend their title from a year ago, but I think this year may be the most balanced from top to bottom since I’ve been here at Ada.”
The tournament kicks off Thursday morning at 10 a.m. with a girls first-round matchup between Guthrie and Stillwater. Other first-round girls games include: Shawnee vs. Durant at 1 p.m.; Choctaw vs. Ponca City at 4 p.m. and Ada vs. Newcastle at 7 p.m.
The boys bracket kicks off with Sapulpa vs. Ponca City at 11:30 a.m. followed by Stillwater vs. Newcastle at 2:30 p.m.; Shawnee vs. Durant at 5:30 p.m. ad Ada vs. Choctaw in the 8:30 p.m. nightcap.
There will be very few breaks in the Ada boys schedule for at least a month.
“We will play 11 games over the next three weeks, so we better be ready,” Anderson said.