The Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic routinely showcases some of the supreme girls’ basketball programs in Oklahoma.
Many of the teams in this year’s field welcome back experienced squads. One team that isn’t experienced, but has performed well so far this season are the Howe Lady Lions.
Howe will face Beggs at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, in the first round of the Mid-America Classic, sponsored by Vision Bank, inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center
With only returning starter in 5-foot, 7-inch junior Jalei Oglesby, the Lady Lions — ranked No. 4 in Class 2A — have reeled off a 7-2 record so far this season while being battle-tested.
Oglesby, who has already drawn NCAA Division I recruiting attention from the likes of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and Belmont (Tennessee), may perhaps be one of the most exciting players in this year’s field. She is averaging around 32 points per game as well as grabbing 10 rebounds per contest.
“She is hard-working and has developed each year. She’s a great rebounder for her size,” said Howe head coach Chris Brown. “She’s a solid basketball player and a good teammate.”
Oglesby has two 43-point outings against Tulsa Rogers and Fort Smith Southside (Arkansas) and a 45-point night against Van Buren (Arkansas). Her season low is 23 points. Her big performances against the Arkansas schools came in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Fort Smith.
In that tournament she shattered the tournament scoring record held by former University of Arkansas All-American and WNBA player Shameka Christon, who played for several teams with the latest being the Phoenix Mercury in 2015.
Howe hasn’t lost to an Oklahoma team. Both losses came in the Fort Smith event — a 62-61 setback to Class 7A Van Buren and a 71-68 decision to Bossier City, Louisiana.
Oglesby will be joined by two seniors and two sophomores in the starting lineup. Kennedi Cooper, a 5-5 guard, and Justin Lynn, a 5-8 forward, are the seniors while Sydnie Womack, a 5-6 guard, and Zoe Nation, a 5-6 guard, are the sophomores. All four are averaging in the 6 to 8 points per game range.
Brown is excited about taking Howe to this tournament.
“We played there in 2007 and lost to Cache in the first round, played Coalgate and lost at the buzzer,” Brown said. “We were grateful to be there. That year we went on and won a state championship.”
Because of Beggs’ state football playoff run to the championship game, the Lady Demons — ranked No. 8 in Class 3A — have played only one game this season, beating No. 20 Eufaula 40-36.
“(Beggs) is a good basketball team and they’ll know more about us than we do about them,” said Brown. “I know they will press us and get after us. They’ve got a great tradition and program.”