The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 26, 2012

Plainsmen face tough test vs. OK's No. 1

ENID, Okla. —  Fresh off a pair of competitive, but losing efforts against top-20 teams Lawton-Eisenhower and Lawton High School, the Enid boys basketball team was at least encouraged despite its second straight two-game losing streak in 2012.

But a 20-point loss against 4A Woodward last week didn’t exactly bolster the Plainsmen’s enthusiasm.

“Oh man,” said Enid senior Jemarcus Jackson, who scored a season-low two points in the 66-46 road defeat. “It makes you want to tear up a locker room.”

Woodward’s locker room was by all indications still intact after Enid’s third straight loss, but the 2-5 Plainsmen’s holiday cheer wasn’t.

“It’s in the past now,” Jackson said. “They come here homecoming, and that’s when we rip into them. We look forward to that.”

Hopefully not too far.

Enid’s next challenge is tonight against Midwest City, Oklahoma’s top-ranked team, and one of two hosts at the Midwest City-Del City Holiday Invitational Tournament.

“It’s going to be a big test for us, to see what these guys are made of, coming off three losses in a row, it’s going to be a test of their mindset and the amount of toughness they have,” Enid coach Ryan Wilkinson said.

Enid, unranked and against the state’s No. 1 team on its home floor, won’t be favored tonight. Midwest City has played only three games this season, but hasn’t been challenged yet, including an 83-47 drubbing of No. 14 Moore in their most recent game on Dec. 14.

But Enid shouldn’t be nearly the underdog it will be, Wilkinson said.

“This team, even though we’ve had some tough losses, when they get it together and they play ball together, they play at a really high level, and can beat a lot of teams,” he said.

“We’ll take it in stride, and we’ll keep getting better,” he later added. “Our practice habits need to improve for us to get to where need to be. That’s something we’ve been preaching and trying to get these guys to realize, that practice is important and what type of practice you have leads into the type of play you have.”

Where Wilkinson found a lack of focus and leadership, his players saw fast-fading chemistry.

“We’ve just got to step it up a notch,” Jackson said. “Practices need to be more intense, more hard-working. We need to bond a lot more, our chemistry is kind of fading away, I feel it. Even after practice, we need to bond with each other, do thing together.”

“We’ve just got to play better, play together,” added fellow starter Deon Parker. “When we do play together, it’s just the opposite. When we play together, we can compete with probably anyone.”

Enid plays Midwest City at 7:30 p.m., and win or lose, the rest of the competition won’t be easy. The three-day tourney also includes top-20 members Mustang (No. 12), Putnam City North (No. 15) and Bixby (No. 16), as well as Norman, the OKC Storm and co-host Del City.

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