The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

January 8, 2014

45th annual Wheat Capital opens today

ENID, Okla. — Here’s to hoping the 45th annual Wheat Capital’s 16 teams had their breakfast.

Eleven of those 16 enter Thursday’s opening round at Chisholm’s Paul J. Outhier Field House with a record of .500 or better, five are ranked in the top-20 of their respective class, and in an impressive girls bracket, two enter the field coming off state tournament appearances last year.

Those two also are the tourney’s top-ranked teams in Class 3A No. 2 Alva, and Class 2A No. 3 Fairview. Fairview strong-armed a Wheat Capital title from Alva to cap last season’s girls bracket, winning a fourth-straight title, 51-34.

Alva earned the top seed in the 2014 edition of the tournament, but Ladybug coach Eric Smith isn’t counting on breaking the Lady Jackets’ streak on seeding alone.

“We got the No. 1 seed, so I guess you’d say, seeding-wise, we should be the best team in the tournament, but Fairview’s won this thing four times in a row, so until they lose, I think they’re the favorites,” Smith said. “As of now, It’s pretty much the Fairview Wheat Capital Tournament.”

Alva did beat Fairview in the teams’ only meeting this season, but the 43-38 Ladybugs win was one of only two times Alva won by fewer than 15 points.

And a rematch of last season’s title matchup is no sure thing. Guymon, ranked 18th in 5A, enters as the only other ranked team in the girls field, and as the highest-class team. Chisholm has played the two top teams within 15 points, and will have the advantage of a likely full-throated homecourt advantage at Paul J. Outhier Field House.

The boys bracket is only slightly less harrowing on paper, with defending champion Alva returning to the tournament with a top seed and the field’s top ranking, 16th in 3A.

Class 2A No. 17 Fairview figures to contend, and Pioneer, now 5-2 and a winner of three straight since losing its spot in 2A’s top 20 after a 2-2 start, has a shot to dethrone the Goldbugs.

“Every year, this tournament is always so tough and talented,” said Pioneer coach Brandon Gallagher. “We’ve had really good teams that have gone in there and lost two games … There’s no telling who’s gonna come out on top in that thing.”

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