As I look at 2011 in the rearview mirror, I, too, am proud of the exploits of champions of LeFlore County. Kudos to the Talihina Golden Tigers and their Class 2A state basketball championship. Most people don’t realize they were only four points away from being a three-time state champion.
Tyler Tustin gained the second state championship for the Pirates in wrestling, and he has two more years to wrestle.
The Wister Wildcats won the whole deal last spring in baseball, and they have a majority of their players back for another run this spring — which would make five straight baseball seasons, dating back to the 2010 spring season, for them to make state.
I am hearing that the Cameron Yellowjackets will also make a strong run at the Class A spring baseball championship after missing out on two chances last fall to make state — losing the latter opportunity to county rival Wister.
The Panama Lady Razorbacks claimed the Class 2A Fast-Pitch Softball State Tournament championship last fall. Never underestimate the Lady ’Backs any time they have a softball bat in their hands, either fast-pitch or slow-pitch versions.
If the Spiro Lady Bulldogs can get improved basketball play from their guards, they could claim a gold ball in March after making the Class 3A State Tournament a season ago under then first-year Coach Kayla Carrington, a.k.a. “Coach K.”
The Poteau Pirate soccer team was a couple of iffy calls from playing for the Class 4A state championship last spring. Since Tulsa Cascia Hall has moved up to another class this spring, if the Pirates can stay healthy, they could win their first state title.
Hannah Ward, a Poteau sophomore golfer, came in second place last year in the Class 4A State Tournament. She should have a chance to claim several medalist honors before finishing matriculating through Poteau High School.
But I think that the people of LeFlore County don’t realize just how good the Poteau High School Band really is, and just what it accomplished this past season. The PHS band took part in three marching contests, and won each and every one of them with the highest marks possible. Then in concert season, they did not make less than the highest award possible, the superior rating. For their performances all year long, they were awarded the highest of all awards, the Sweepstakes Champion.
The band is also in position for this feat next season, but a lot of hard work is ahead of them.
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I sat through 24 games last week at various sites during the 2012 Leflore County Junior High Basketball Tournament. While the coaches voted at last month's seeding meeting to not choose All-Tournament Teams, I would like to give my version. While I did not get a chance to see each and every team play, I think I saw the cream of the crop. Not all the teams will have a player on my teams. I selected the teams as if I were going to form a team from scratch.
My girls' All-Tournament Team would be comprised of the following:
Cienna Titsworth, Arkoma — I mentioned her earlier last weekend as being a third-generation athlete from LeFlore County. She wants to follow her grandfather’s footsteps and attend the University of Oklahoma on a basketball scholarship.
Jodie Hill, Heavener — She scored 25 points the first night, and she looks to have a great career wearing the purple and gold.
Jayla Johnson, Talihina — She already has the height, but a couple of more inches would not hurt. If she can develop stamina, endurance, agility and soft hands, she could be special.
Kori Lefevers, Pansy Kidd Middle School — I watched her lead the Lady Raiders to the championship. She's a good ball handler who broke Howe's press in Saturday night's title game. She will only get better with age.
Darcy Goins, Panama — As I saw the Lady Razorbacks play, Goins just simply stood out.
Madison Tackett, Panama — She forms a tag team with Goins to make a great 1-2 combination for the Lady ’Backs.
Azure Watkins, Hodgen — She's a playmaker who will add to what ever high school she attends next year.
Braden Dorsey, Howe — The older she gets, the better she will become. She will be an integral part of the future of Howe Lady Lions Basketball.
Kaylee Roath and Kyla Brown, Wister — This tandem offers an inside-outside presence and threat.
Sunni McConnell, PKMS — She looks to only improve through the years.
Kandace Standridge, PKMS — She could follow in the footsteps of her sister and cousin, and could be the best of the trio.
Carleigha Thompson, Spiro — I almost did not put her on the girls All-Tournament Team. I came close to putting her on the boys All-Tournament Team. She is that good. With the youth on the Spiro lady Bulldogs high school team right now, this eighth-grader will be on the court when the Lady Bulldogs start their season next year.
Honorable Mention — Jennifer Marvin, Maci McMillin, PKMS; Hunter Traylor, Bokoshe; Jacee Manley, Hodgen, Jentry Brown, Howe; Brittany Brassfield, Shelby Maxwell, Panama; Amy Warren, Wister.
Now, for the boys All-Tournament Team:
Duncan Barnes, Cameron — When the Yellowjackets needed points, they usually turned to Barnes.
Dereck Goodmanson, Hodgen — This player is tall and lean. If he want to progress in basketball, he'll need to add bulk to his frame.
Pedro Rojas, Howe — He's a diamond in the rough for the Lions, who can create points in the paint.
Dalton Smith, Roger Barcheers, Mason Grimm and Gavin Brown, PKMS — They're multiple-sport athletes who have a chance to dominate in more that one sport.
Jesse Hammons, Wister — He performed well for the Wildcats and has a great future ahead of him.
Austin Archey, PKMS — Even though he did not play in the tournament due to an injury suffered during the middle of tournament week, I am going to name him on the All-Tournament Team.
Scotty Gibson, Wister — He offers the Wildcats an athlete who will only improve over the years.
Kaanan Hardaway, PKMS — This ignitor for the Raiders is an excellent ball handler. By the time he gets to be a sophomore, the Pirates will have one of the best backcourts in Oklahoma. His brother, Kendrick Hardaway, is currently a sophomore on Poteau's high school team.
Jake Sconyers, Wister — I have never been one to hide my feelings. and I thought about this year's PKMS eighth-grade Raiders, in any sport — they are simply the best group of kids that I have ever seen together as a unit. But, I am going to pay the highest of honors to Sconyers. In my opinion, he would be the only athlete in this part of the state that could crack into the starting line-up for the Raiders in football, basketball or track.