The 2019-20 campaign has begun for the Pawhuska Huskies and Lady Huskies basketball teams, and they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to play their home games on a brand-new gym floor.

Each team was 4-1 on the season, coming into this week, and getting ready for Basketball Homecoming, which is scheduled for Friday night versus in-county rival Barnsdall. The girls game begins at 6:30 p.m. See Page B1 of this edition of the Journal-Capital for images of the students included in the Basketball Homecoming Court.

Superintendent David Cash said last Thursday that the school district had looked at the possibility of having the old floor, which he described as “ribbed,” sanded; however, a contractor looked at the floor and said sanding would be ineffective — anyone trying that would just go straight through the wood.

So the district took up the old floor during the summer months, with labor provided by kids visiting the town on summer mission trips. They were supervised by the Pawhuska Public Schools maintenance department. That donated labor saved about $10,000, Cash said.

A vendor out of Tulsa, who does gym floors for major universities, did the new Pawhuska floor for about $75,000, Cash said. That was some $20,000 cheaper than the next offered price, he said.

“It truly wasn’t a compromise (between price and quality),” Cash said. There is a moisture barrier under the new floor, which will help ensure its longevity. “This floor will be here until the building comes down.”

And the kids love the result. Cash is coaching the varsity girls basketball team this season, so he sees the reaction that students have to the new floor.

“They really take care of it,” he said. “When they come in, they kick their shoes off if they’re street shoes.”

Cash points to Chris Walker, director of Pawhuska’s athletic programs, as the point person on facilities improvements, but Walker deflects that credit and talks about how much he appreciates the support of the district administration and of local residents who care about Pawhuska Public Schools. Walker had particular praise for “the level of involvement and support of this community.”

Walker mentioned that Pawhuska redid its softball concession stand and bathrooms during the summer of 2019, and several parents were helpful. He also notes that the interior of the Pawhuska gym has been repainted in orange, black and gray, and that a heating/air-conditioning system is being installed. A local contractor is helping to make that improvement affordable, he said.

“Again, community support,” Walker said. The sound system in the gym is new and the scorebords are, too. The new scoreboards are digital and wireless — the gift of Blue Sky Bank, which has taken a leading role in supporting the school district. More improvements are planned, as Pawhuska attempts to provide its students with the best facilities it can for a small school district.