The ride ends for 2020, but possibilities abound

Robert Smith
For sophomore Ty Chinn, who has already played two years of Huskies basketball, and other underclassmen on the 2020 PHS team, the challenge remains — to get Pawhuska back to the top of the Oklahoma high school basketball heap. They will have the chance to build on the run to the Area Tournament this season. Journal-Capital photo

Coach Jake Christenson doesn’t figure his guys are that proud right now — the ride toward the state 2A boys basketball tournament is over for them for 2020. The season ended for the Pawhuska Huskies last weekend with two losses in the Area Tournament, one to Hooker and the other to Pawnee.

The weekend before, Pawhuska had beaten a 24-1 Pawnee team 61-59 at Stroud to win a regional title. It was a tremendous upset victory over a team that had beaten the Huskies twice previously this season, and Pawhuska was flying high.

The Pawhuska tradition of eras gone by was beginning to be talked about. One more win would get them to state, but it wasn’t to be — not this season. The Huskies lost 51-34 to Hooker on Friday night in Enid, and then 56-47 to Pawnee on Saturday night. Christenson pointed out that the Saturday game with Pawnee was close for a while, with just a three-point margin.

“It’s hard at this point, in their minds. It’s hard to be proud when it’s over,” Christenson said of his team. “When you’re one game short of going to the state tournament, that’s probably all they can think of.”

He anticipates, however, that the seniors of 2019-20 will come to understand that their perspiration has helped to make possible a revitalization of the Pawhuska basketball program. He said that he expects his 2020 seniors to cheer on the teams that will come behind them, and wants them to be in the trophy pictures when those teams win it all.

“I just hope they understand the impact that they have,” Christenson said. “I hope they understand that they have led us to something else.”

The final record for the 2019-20 PHS boys basketball team was 19 wins, 10 losses. They won a regional title and made it to an Area Tournament. They went down fighting for a state tournament berth.

It was also a promising season for the Pawhuska Lady Huskies, who finished with a record of 19 wins, 7 losses. For the Lady Huskies, this was their first campaign under Coach David Cash, who is also Pawhuska’s superintendent.

“The playoffs didn’t go as we wanted, but top to bottom we had a great year,” he said. The Lady Huskies will lose three senior starters, but they have returning players and young talent coming up.

“We, I think, will be right back in position like we were this year,” Cash said, explaining he thinks the 20-21 team can be a contender for a state ranking. He explained that his first season with the Lady Huskies had involved teaching his approach. “Year 2 is definitely easier than Year 1.”