KINGFISHER, Okla. —
The late-starting Kingfisher Yellowjackets made their first appearance in the 4A boys top 20 when the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association released its newest rankings this week, but their stay might be short-lived.
Kingfisher, tied with Cascia Hall at No. 19, won their first Wheat Capital crown since 2010 after closing a 14-point halftime deficit and opening a 16-point advantage in the fourth against defending tournament champ and top seed Alva (No 16 in 3A), but a bad habit of slow starts may boot the ’Jackets outside to top-20.
After the rankings were released, first-year head coach Jared Reese said that, given their importance for tournament seeding, they were already on his mind, one-game-at-a-time coachspeak bedamned.
“We don’t have a lot of time,” Reese said. “It’s only a couple weeks away before it does matter. If we are gonna get ranked high, we need to do it quickly.”
At times during their 5-0 start, the Yellowjackets looked every bit like a team playing five games with only seven practices’ worth of preparation. In the Wheat Capital semis against Pioneer, Kingfisher missed 16 of its first 18 shots with five first-quarter turnovers to trail 14-4 after the first before rallying to a 41-36 win. They did the same against Alva, falling into the aforementioned 14-point hole before a 33-4 run to open the second half.
Still, the slow starts finally got the best of Kingfisher on Tuesday in a 53-51 loss to 3A No. 12 Perkins. The Yellowjackets again sputtered out of the gates and into a 17-9 hole in the the first, and it may cost them their newly-achieved status.
The elongated wheel-greasing period, plus the need to climb the rankings ASAP, are largely thanks to the Yellowjackets’ 3A football title run (probably worth the inconvenience), with more than half of the team being less than two weeks removed from the gridiron by the start of basketball season.
Excuses aside, said Reese, “It’s nice being ranked -- it’s a better than not being ranked.”
Kingfisher visits Clinton, just its second game against a fellow 4A team, on Saturday.
Oklahoma Bible Academy finally appeared in the 2A top-20 last week, and this week has jumped another two slots to No. 18 in the class. Adam Eaton (17.3 points per game) has led the charge into the spotlight’s outer edge for OBA (9-3), which has lost only to teams above Class 2A (Twice to 3A No. 16 Alva and once to 4A Newkirk).
2A No. 3 Fairview (11-1) didn’t leap second-ranked Preston (12-4) in the girls ranks, despite Preston’s 16-point loss to Stroud on Saturday, the same night Fairview upset 3A No. 2 Alva in the Wheat Capital finals. But they do have the edge in first-place votes, 13-9, second to only top-ranked Millwood’s 49.
The Pioneer boys entered last week’s Wheat Capital Tournament with a chance at improving their standing against a field that included two ranked squads (3A No. 16 Alva and 2A No. 16 Fairview), but may have ended up further back then they started. The Mustangs (7-4) couldn’t hold double-digit leads against either Kingfisher or Blackwell, finishing 1-2 in the tournament.
Speaking of Wheat Capital disappointments, Fairview’s boys entered the field 6-2 and ranked 17th in 2A, but lost all three tournament games, capped by a 15-point loss to tournament host Chisholm in the seventh-place game. The tailspin has continued after the tourney with a 49-43 loss to Seiling on Tuesday, the now 6-6 Yellowjackets’ fourth straight.