As the football season has ended for most of the county teams, it’s time for hoops.
The smaller schools have already started their seasons while the larger ones will get going later this month.
We are going to go out on a limb and rank the county teams. We will rank the teams each week, along with the Readers’ poll where you can rank the teams. The Journal’s rankings along with the Readers’ poll will be published each Monday.
After Talihina dominated the county the last two years, the county champion is wide open for the first time in three years.
1. Spiro. Hard to pick anybody else as the Bulldogs are deep and talented. This is not a team you want to get in a shootout with. The only concern is inside as Spiro will have to look for new players to step up in the paint.
2. Poteau. Pirates are deep and talented, but will be without returning starter Blake Roley, who is expected to miss the season with surgery on his arm. The Pirates will be big in the paint with Wilson Klutts and Marshall Jones. Sophomore Kendrick Hardaway could be one of the best players in the county.
3. Heavener. One county coach, who I respect, said he thinks the Wolves will be the second-best team in the county. Heavener has size and scoring, but will need a fifth starter to step up.
4. Pocola. Indians were down last year, but have basically everybody back on a team that improved through the season. Grant Severe will be one of the best players in the county.
5. Cameron. The Jackets are likely to be the best small school in the county, although Howe, Wister and LeFlore will have something to say about that. Cameron starts five seniors with three returning starters, including guard Ryan Carter, who is averaging 25.5 points per game through two wins.
6. Howe. After a down year last season by Howe standards, the Lions are back this year with a deep and athletic team. Howe is 1-1 so far with the only loss by four points at Cameron. Jared Brown is a standout for the Lions.
7. Wister. Wildcats could cause a lot of problems this year with Tyler Gibson and Cody Luman.
8. Panama. The Hogs could be one of the surprises in the county, especially if some of the younger players step up.
9. Talihina. The Tigers are rebuilding with basically a whole new starting squad and a new coach. But Talihina will have some talent and could be a surprise.
10. LeFlore. The Savages are no longer an easy win. LeFlore benefitted when Dakota Watson came back and he teams up with Caleb Smith, one of the better scorers in the county.
11. Arkoma. The Mustangs have a solid team and could cause trouble in the county tournament. This is one team that might be picked way too low.
12. WHITESBORO—The Bulldogs are looking to rebuild with a young team.
13. BOKOSHE. The Tigers struggled last year and are rebuilding.
This will be an interesting year for girls basketball in the county as several teams could compete for the county championship.
1. HOWE. The Lady Lions are experienced, athletic and deep. Howe finished second the last two years to Heavener and is hoping to finally break through and win the LCT.
2. SPIRO. Spiro built up momentum through the season and reached the Class 3A state tournament behind the play of standout Philicea Mack and an excellent supporting cast. The Lady Bulldogs will host the LCT again.
3. POTEAU. Aside from Spiro, Poteau showed the most improvement of any county team last year and returns several key players from a team which upset Muldrow in the district tournament.
4. TALIHINA. Talihina was helped when the Lady Tigers picked up transfer Chelsea Baggs, who was one of the top sophomores in the county as a sophomore at Howe. Talihina only graduated one senior.
5. HEAVENER. The Lady Wolves have won the LCT for the last two years, but lost its three top scorers and will be playing for their third head coach in three years. Heavener does have some solid players, but will need somebody to step up as a scorer.
6. BOKOSHE. Bokoshe reached the LCT semifinals last year without any seniors and returns a talented group.
7. PANAMA. The Lady Razorbacks were young last year and talented. Most of the players are part of the team which won the state tournament in fast pitch softball.
8. WISTER. The Lady Wildcats return a good group and will be a difficult matchup for most teams.
9. POCOLA. Pocola has a new coach with most of its starters back from a team which struggled last season.
10. WHITESBORO—Whitesboro is young and rebuilding.
11. CAMERON—Cameron is already showing some improvement under new coach Sheila Jones.
12. ARKOMA—Arkoma has struggled for the last few years, but has a good group of young players.
13. LeFLORE—LeFlore struggled last year and could have a difficult season again.