Pawhuska High School basketball teams are set to launch their seasons on the road next Tuesday night and will then wrap up opening week with home games on Friday, Dec. 6.
PHS begins the 2013-14 prep campaign Dec. 3 at Perry against the Maroons. The Huskies and Lady Huskies will tip off their home hoops slates the following Friday night when the Barnsdall Panther squads pay visit to Oren Terrill Field House for renewals of their Osage County rivalries.
Coach Monty Unruh’s Pawhuska boys’ team returns two starters in junior forward Trent Barnett and senior guard Marcus Young.
Barnett started nearly every game as a sophomore. He is an excellent ball handler on top of his shooting and rebounding skills. A major contributor off the bench for the past two seasons, Young provide even more experience to the PHS lineup. Young excels in fast-break situations and has been among the team’s leaders for both steals and assists.
A couple of late arrivals for the Huskies will be familiar to Pawhuska sports fans.
Tyler Culver, a 6-2 senior, is headed to the court after missing the football season due to participation in national baseball competitions. Another senior, Bryce Wilson, will bring football toughness and the outstanding leaping ability that made him a standout receiver.
The new additions should help the Huskies inside following the loss to graduation of formidable double-post combination Zak Stone and Trey Rulo.
Plenty of action will be seen this season by PHS junior Trey Redeagle, according to Unruh.
"He was our top scorer this summer and we will need him to give us points from the outside," the veteran coach said.
Supplying additional depth for the boys’ squad will be seniors Daniel Bogney and Mason Moody, and sophomores Hayden Henley and Brad Moreland. Sophomores Bailey Thompson and J.R. Young, as well as freshman Mathew Rector, should also take the court for PHS, Unruh said.
A year ago, the Pawhuska boys finished 8-15. The new-edition Huskies will be forced to rely on quickness and teamwork as they attempt to improve on that mark.
Court experience will be running fairly deep for the PHS girls, Coach Austin Minshall said.
With a roster that included only two seniors and seven freshmen, last year’s Lady Huskies’ squad flashed promise of a bright future — despite going 5-17.
Minshall begins his third season at Pawhuska with a familiar group that includes junior point guard Andie Sweeden, who was named the team’s top defensive player last year. According to the coach, Sweeden "plays defense non-stop and accepts every challenge."
PHS options also will be enhanced by versatile senior Haley Malaske, who Minshall says "does everything well."
Last year as a freshman, Keylee Kirk earned second-team All-89er East Conference honors. She also shared the top-offensive award for the Lady Huskies with 2013 graduate Malloree Thompson. In her second year, Kirk will continue to be looked upon as both an inside and outside presence for PHS.
"Keylee is so fast and strong that she already gives us our biggest inside threat," the coach said of Kirk. "Since she gets to the line so much, she has been working extra hard on her free-throw shooting — and that could give an important boost in points."
Other top-notch sophomore returnees for Pawhuska are Kaylee Hambright, Sarah Phillippi and Genie Herren. A small handful of freshmen could also make an impact for the Lady Huskies, the coach said. The ninth-grade prospects include Darriene Fry, Sydney Sellers and Mary Jo Upchurch.
Minshall said he expects to see a lot of zone defenses because "we do not yet have a proven shooter." Until one of the team’s shooting prospects step forward, the coach added that the Lady Huskies will probably score a majority of their points in transition.
Tipoff for Lady Huskie varsity basketball action normally is set at 6:30 p.m., with the boys’ games following at around 8 p.m. Junior varsity contests get underway at 4:30 or 5 p.m.
The second week of the Pawhuska season will find the local teams competing in the Sperry Invitational Basketball Tournament from Dec. 9-14. One other home game is also slated before the holiday break. The Hominy squads will visit the PHS field house on Friday, Dec. 20.
Basketball games currently scheduled in January for PHS include: Jan. 7 at Newkirk; Jan. 9 — home for Thursday versus Caney Valley; Jan. 16 — at Pawnee; Jan. 17 — at Barnsdall; Jan. 31 — at Caney Valley. The February hoops slate for the Huskies and Lady Huskies shows: Feb. 11 — home versus Pawnee; Feb. 14 — home against Newkirk; Feb. 18 — at Hominy.