By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Are you ready for some hoops? Starting today and running through Saturday, our community will be host to two high school basketball tournaments that have been mainstays on the local scene for several years.
The two tournaments — the 89th annual Skeltur Conference tournament at NOC Enid’s Mabee Center and the Cherokee Strip Tournament at Chisholm Trail Expo Center — will see 32 teams from 16 schools playing 46 games over a three-day span with boys and girls champions being crowned at each tournament.
The girls side of the Cherokee Strip bracket appears to be particularly loaded with four of the state’s Top 10 Class B teams — No.2 Lomega, No. 5 Timberlake, No. 6 Burlington, No. 9 DCLA — participating.
While all the teams will be fun to watch at this year’s tournaments, particularly intriguing are the No. 2 Lomega Lady Raiders (17-4), who, following No. 1-ranked Hammon’s 52-49 loss to Seiling on Tuesday, should be primed to move up to No. 1 with a strong tournament showing.
The defending state and two-time Cherokee Strip Tournament champions have shown they can compete (and win) against any level of competition, having defeated Class 6A Tulsa Union 60-58 Dec. 29 at the Mid-America Classic. Anything less than a repeat girls tournament title for Lomega would have to be considered an upset.
The competition is expected to be fierce on the boys side where Burlington will be looking to successfully defend its title, while Pond Creek-Hunter’s girls and Pioneer’s boys are seeking to defend their Skeltur titles.
It’s also a great opportunity too for the community to get out and show its support for the local and area kids.
The News & Eagle, as it has done over the past years, will be providing coverage of both tournaments and we would like to thank in advance the coaches of all of the teams involved for their assistance in bringing the results to our readers by calling in their box scores after their games. Your help in this regard ensures that we are able to recognize all of the hard-working student-athletes for their efforts during the Cherokee Strip and Skeltur Conference tournaments, whether they score one point or 20 points.
But tournaments aren’t limited to our area.
Enid also is tournament-bound this week, making another appearance in the Bruce Gray Invitational at Deer Creek Edmond. The Pacers seem to be hitting their stride and are ranked No. 9 in Class 6A after their 58-40 win over Ponca City Friday. Enid now is 11-2 on the season and has won nine of its last 10 games. The Pacers will open play against Star-Spencer.
The Plainsmen will be looking to get back on the winning track after back-to-back losses to rivals Stillwater and Ponca City and will open tonight against Mustang.
Both the Plainsmen and the Pacers won the consolation championships in last year’s tournament.
And if the weekend leaves you wanting more hoops, NOC Enid hosts conference rival Redlands in a men’s-women’s doubleheader 6 p.m. Monday at Mabee Center.
Still not enough? The Harlem Globetrotters also are in town for a 7 p.m. tip-off on Monday. The world renowned “Clown Princes of Basketball” bring their 2013 “You Write The Rules” tour to Enid at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center.
For more information about how you can vote on some unique rules for the Globetrotters’ visit to Enid, go to www.harlemglobetrot ters.com.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.