Every Monday during the high school basketball season, I take some time to examine the week that was for area teams.
Standing at 3-3 with some quality wins and some lopsided losses coming into the Chisholm Trail Holiday Shootout, it was hard to know exactly where the Duncan Demons stood in Class 5A.
The tournament was a measuring stick, and by the time it was over Saturday night, the Demons were standing pretty tall.
The Demons, who are currently ranked 18th in their class (just below the middle line), got an ugly win over Class 6A U.S. Grant, beat 5A’s No. 20 Guthrie and went toe-to-toe with 5A’s No. 7 MacArthur.
It’s still hard to place any particular expectations on the Demons, who have lacked consistency to this point, but it is now known that Duncan can contend with the best in their class.
Any questions about whether or not the Velma-Alma Comets could remain strong after graduating Corbin Byford have been washed away with a 8-1 start, playing schools from larger classes in all but one game and taking their only loss in overtime.
One of the few teams to hang with them this season is Marlow, which added some merit to its strong 4-2 start. After graduating their top scorer and losing two more expected starters I was expecting a rough start to the season for the Outlaws, but surprisingly, it has been quite to the contrary so far.
Fueling the rivalry
The Demons and the Lawton MacArthur Highlanders have everything needed for a good rivalry: They are close in proximity, similar in size and generally comparable in talent and success.
And on Saturday, MacArthur gave the Demons one more reason to be motivated, and perhaps hold a bit of a grudge.
With 1:44 to play in Saturday night’s game, Duncan called a full timeout. While Duncan, which was down seven at the time, used the entire length of the timeout to draw up plays, MacArthur broke from their huddle early. Two Highlanders decided this was an opportune time to do a little reconnaissance work, stepping into Duncan’s huddle.
The move went unnoticed by refs and by Mac’s coaches, but it certainly caught the attention of the Demons and their fans, who voiced their concern and were still talking about the questionable tactic after the game.
The Duncan Lady Demons have been short on two things this season: depth and ball handlers.
They may be starting to shore up those areas.
Duncan came into the season with a large portion of their lineup injured and then lost senior Sarah Ray in the first game to an ACL tear.
Players are starting to return to the team now, with freshmen Delaney Mitchell and Paityn Bower suiting up for the first time in recent weeks. Ray is also back, playing with an knee brace and an unrepaired ACL, which she will try to play on the rest of the season.
With a 9-2 start coming off a season in which they went 9-16, the Empire Lady Bulldogs have undoubtedly been this season’s biggest surprise thus far.
Empire has solid shooters, good ball handlers and a rare plethora of strong (and tall) post players. It’s still early in the year, but the Lady Bulldogs are looking like a team that could make a decent run when the postseason rolls around.
For some teams, greatness comes in a flash, when three or four really talented players all happen to be on the same squad.
For most, though, it is a process attained by a program that has built tradition and standards, which then gets the right mix of players.
The Velma-Alma Comets are currently building toward greatness.
The Comets made a push two years ago, going deep into the area tournament. They went a step further last season as they went undefeated during the regular season before falling in the first round of the state tournament.
Greg Crews is sports editor of The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354 or at email@example.com.