Coach: Dirk Walden
20-21 Record: 16-8
There are a lot of questions to be answered in the early part of the basketball season for the Oktaha Tigers of second-year coach Dirk Walden but one they don’t have to worry about is at point guard with the return of starter Gabe Hamilton (5-10, Sr.). “Gabe is just a hard-nosed, gritty young man who didn’t average a ton of points last year but shot a really high percentage,” said Walden. “He’s the guy who made a lot of big shots for us last year.” After Hamilton arises the question marks. Jake Blackwell (6-4, Sr.) played a lot off the bench last year and he’s one whose southpaw stroke will need to find the basket consistently. Another guy who saw a lot of action last year and will move in to a full-time starting role is Hunter Dearman (5-11, Jr.) who will join Hamilton out front. A.J. Fisher (6-5, Jr.) is a player that has come a long way in the off-season and will hopefully have a breakout season according to Walden. The head coach also has high hopes for Sallisaw move-in Maddox Edwards (5-10, So.). “He’s my kind of player-just gritty and determined,” said Walden. “He’s a coach’s son so he can take a chewing and turn his game up. He shoots well, has a great work ethic and can really defend.” Another big question for the Tigers will be developing a bench early in the season from a bunch of young players to support these five guys.
Coach: Kia Holmes
20-21 Record: 13-8
Entering her 15th year at the helm of the Lady Tigers Kia Holmes looks forward to the return of a solid group of players including two starters who helped propel Oktaha to the area tournament last year. The big surprise for the Lady Tigers last year was youngster Ava Scott (5-10, So.) who was the leading scorer for Oktaha at 14 points and six rebounds a game and who Holmes terms “a special player.”. Leadership of this year’s team will fall to Rylee Walters (6-1, Sr.) in the post spot. She just missed averaging a double-double with 11 points and nine boards per game. Also returning are players who saw a lot of playing time in Bekah Bunch (6-0, Jr.) who averaged about 6 points a game and Ryleigh Bacon (5-10, So.) who averaged nearly seven rebounds a game from the guard spot. “I expect Ryleigh to play a big role for us this season after a strong freshman year,” said Holmes. Two other players who will look for increased roles this year are Addie Focht and Faith Blackwell. “I really feel this is the year we continue to climb based on the athletes and hard workers I have,” said Holmes. “I have a great core returning and I expect this group to be able to take us further down the playoff road this season.”