By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. — No. 14 Pacers eye first ranked win vs. Ike
A game after its first loss of the season, the Enid High School girls basketball team notched its most lopsided win, taking third place at the Lady Bulldog Classic in Altus with a 56-25 drubbing of Wichita Falls.
Next, No. 14 Enid (3-1) can get its best early-season victory.
The Pacers host No. 19 Lawton Eisenhower at 6:30 tonight at the Mabee Center, an opportunity for the team’s first win against a team in the OKRankings.com’s top 20.
“They’re a very, very good team,” said Enid head coach Robb Mills. “They’re 5-0, and their strength is their big post girls. They have a lot of size, a lot of strength, so it’s going to be tough for us. We’re not the tallest team in the world, but we’re strong.”
Enid follows Friday’s test with another home match at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against 1-3 Lawton, but the marquee tilt is Friday’s.
“(Lawton is) kind of rebuilding,” Mills said. “We’re not underestimating them, but they’re probably not as talented as (Eisenhower).”
Tonight’s game is the latest chance for the Pacers, who despite three wins in four games to open the season, aren’t playing as well as they should, Mills said.
“This year’s team, we are not playing our best basketball, and we’re still 3-1, so I’m happy,” he said. “Particularly on the offensive end, we’re not shooting as well as we can. I feel like we’ve got a lot of improving to do. It may start Friday, who knows?”
Plainsmen’s streak put to test against two top-20s
The Enid High School boys basketball team was 1-4 through five games a season ago, and after reaching the two-win threshold through four games in 2012-13, there may be reason to expect more soon.
In its most recent of two straight victories, Enid (2-2) scored 21 in the second quarter against Sapulpa, the most the Plainsmen have tallied in a single frame in four games this season.
And it wasn’t just one or two players pulling the weight. Deon Parker scored six of his game- and career-high 19, and so did Aaron Austin. Darnae Banks added five, and Jemarcus Jackson — the Plainsmen’s leading scorer at 13.5 points per game — rounded out the balanced offering with four.
The quarter ended up being the difference in Enid’s 64-51 win, and head coach Ryan Wilkinson is cautiously optimistic the team’s best offensive performance thus far is a sign of things to come, instead of an early-season anomaly.
“We’re probably farther along getting ready for game five than we were getting ready for game five last year,” said the second-year Enid coach. “We just need to continue to get better, though. We can’t be satisfied with where we’re at.”
“It was kind of a slow start,” said Jackson, the team’s only returning starter. “People that hadn’t started before, they kind of got that gut feeling at the beginning, but they’re starting to realize that we need to get our act right, go in there and play ball.”
Enid’s next chance to do that might be against its toughest competition so far.
The Plainsmen host No. 5 Lawton Eisenhower (4-1) at 8 tonight and No. 20 Lawton (2-2) 24 hours later, both at the Mabee Center.
“They’re going to be a really athletic group,” Wilkinson said specifically of Eisenhower, but added the same applied to Lawton. “They’re going to get out, they’re going to pressure, they’re fast, so we’ve got to match that intensity.”
Jackson, also the team’s leading rebounder at 7.8 per game, said the intensity’s there, and the next ingredient already is brewing.
“I feel better with the group of people I’m playing with now, because I’ve played with them since we were little,” he said. “It’s better chemistry out there.”