Thoughts and Notes on the Basketball Season, Part I

From a championship standpoint, it was a bad year for Kingfisher County.

The 2022-23 basketball season is over.

Fourteen teams (seven girls, seven boys) lifted golden balls on center court at State Fair Arena or Lloyd Noble Center.

For the first time since 2018, none of them resided in Kingfisher County.

It’s only the sixth time since the 2000 state championships that no county team has won a title.

Eighteen with at least one.

Only six without. Yes, we are spoiled here.


Lomega’s daughters are the closest.

Of the county’s 12 teams, the Lady Raiders were the only ones to play the Championship on Saturday where they were eventually held off by No 1 Hammon.

It was the fourth year in a row that Lomega had played for the Championship and the second time in a row to “settle” for the silver ball.

Even in a place like Lomega where championships aren’t dreamed of, but expected, playing four straight years in the state championship game is an unreal feat.

Again, we are spoiled here and can often take for granted how hard it is to do.

But that was the reality for Lomega’s seniors this year: two state titles and two second-place finishes.

It’s an absolutely stellar run, even if the sting of losing the title match lingers.

I know that’s still the case for one of those seniors, Darcy Roberts.

I saw Darcy sitting alone in the stands at the Kingfisher County Stock Show as some of her friends showed off sheep.

I knew Darcy was involved in that world as well, so I asked her what she was showing this year.

She informed me that she was not present this year.

Between classes at Lomega, college classes, basketball, a part-time job and performing, something had to give this year, she said.

Although she said she missed it, showing sheep was shelved.

Basketball meant more to her than showing off, so she devoted her scarce free time to giving it her full attention and set herself the goal of bringing the golden ball “home”.

And it almost happened… but it didn’t.

When it didn’t, it hit Darcy hard.

As the final seconds ticked away in the title match, reality set in and emotions took over.

I happened to have a camera in my hand and I captured those moments…those difficult moments. I took a couple dozen photos of the emotion that washed over Darcy, one of them showing the Hammon team stomping in the background after the final buzzer.

I ran it on the front page of our newspaper in the next edition.

While we always wanted to celebrate successes, my goal was also to show the reality of when things don’t go our way.

Before launching the photo, I had a little evil inside. Should we post something that might be judged in a negative light in a community newspaper?

Was it too hard? Was it fair for Darcy?

But for the stated reasons, I ran the photo. I was wondering if I would get any negative feedback from the Lomega community.

I do not have. After giving him a few days to process the loss, I emailed Darcy.

I told him about the pictures I took and why I took them. I let her know that if she wanted them, I would be happy to share them.

I also said I would completely understand if she – not her words, but mine told me to stuff them under the pile of manure they had to carry OYE barns.

She said that day was, in fact, terrible for her. Then she offered this: “I would love to have the photos…I know tears are just my passion for the game and one day I will look back and be so grateful for every photo capturing all of these amazing memories. ”

As impressive as Darcy’s career is – the aforementioned team success, a State Tournament MVP honor and 1,746 career points and 978 career rebounds to name a few – this phrase from Darcy might have been even more impressive.


I’ve said all year that if the Dover girls were sent to an area other than Lomega, they would have an outside chance of reaching the state tournament.

They weren’t.

The only good news with this year’s playoff assignments was that the two weren’t placed in the same district again or forced to play the first round of regionals.

Instead, they met in the regional final and by then Dover had already secured a place in the region for the first time in over a dozen years.

And they won a game in the zone… then pushed a top-eight team to Arnett well into the second half of their consolation semi-final.

With just about the entire cast returning next year, Matt Peck and his Lady Longhorns certainly won’t fly under the radar, but that shouldn’t matter.

They’ll be a team to watch…a team that could very well fight their way into that ever-valuable top eight by the time next year’s assignments are announced.

If that happens, maybe just maybe – we’ll see them make a run at the state tournament for the first time since playing in seven – yes, 7!!!! – straight state title games.


Another team that picked up just about everyone? Cash.

The Lady Wildcats were a modest 10-13 when the 2A playoffs began.

They started this playoffs with an 18-point win over the 16th-ranked team in the class.

Then they won their first-round regional match by 20 points before having to face No. 1 Dale in the regional final.

It didn’t go Cashion’s way, but Andrea Taylor’s side were still back in the region’s tournament.

Once there, Cashion defeated Chouteau and Wewoka to remarkably get a win in qualifying for the state tournament.

All the momentum was on their side, but…..

Sixth-ranked Warner shocked Dale in the zone final, ending the Lady Pirates’ 27-game winning streak.

This meant that Cashion had to face a very restless Dale team in the region’s consolation championship game.

It was the fourth time the teams had faced each other this season, including the third time in just over two weeks.

Dale won hands down — and then won the state championship — but Cashion pointed out to his helpful team that next season could very well be the one that delivers more success.


What did the Cashion girls have in common this season with the Kingfisher boys and girls, the Lomega girls and the Okarche girls?

All were eliminated by their respective state champion.


Speaking of Lady Warriors…

I have no doubt they were destined to be a state tournament team.

However, their season could easily have changed after the second day of the Tournament of Champions.

The Lady Warriors suffered losses by Bixby and Holland Hall to open the tournament.

Despite a serious injury, Bixby qualified for the 6A State Tournament.

Holland Hall was in 4A at the time, finally got boosted to 5A mid-season and made it all the way to this state title game.

The Lady Warriors bounced back from those losses to put 16 points over Pocola on the final day of the tournament.

Going home with a win on the final day is much better than going home with three straight losses (Pocola was No. 1 in 2A at the time and, tied or not, ended up not qualifying for the state).

Coach Haley Mitchel said the same thing after that win and after her team qualified for state: The Lady Warriors used that final day as a springboard for the rest of the season.

The numbers confirm it. Okarche was 7-4 at the end of TOC.

The Lady Warriors went 17-2 the rest of the way.

The only losses were to Amber-Pocasset, who lost to Dale in the 2A semi-finals, and to Seiling in the Class A semi-finals.

The Ladycats, of course, won the state.

Along the way, Okarche went undefeated in his conference, won the conference tournament, and avenged a loss to Vanoss in the regional finals…among his many accomplishments.


I’m excited to see what the Hennessey and Okarche boys can do next season.

The Eagles qualified for the 2A State Tournament and suffered a last-second loss in the quarterfinals.

They lose key players at graduation, especially considering how well Layton Choate played along the stretch.

However, there is also a very strong Eagles core returning and we have already seen – time and time again – what coach Brady Page can do with his talent.

Okarche may have laid the groundwork for years to come with their run to the Class A quarter-finals.

The Warriors only had one senior – PK Harris – on their roster…and he was a good player.

However, the wealth of young talent at Okarche is abundant for coach Aaron West.

The Warriors got a taste of the state tournament and not having the kind of show they expected will no doubt fuel them next season.

However, nothing is certain.

Okarche’s story is also told in all the other schools that have qualified for Class A status: they are all young and that includes the champion, Caddo.

Getting to the state next year is going to be a hassle. Winning it will have to be earned.

The good news for Okarche is that the Warriors have the tools to put on a real run.

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