The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 22, 2014

Pacers try again to ‘prove’ themselves

Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The Enid Pacers missed their most recent chance for their first win against 6A’s top 20 by a single point on Saturday, uncharmed despite their third crack at the feat.

This week? Well, there’s bad news and good news.

Enid travels to the 2014 Bruce Gray Invitational on Thursday at Deer Creek Edmond, elbowing its way through a field that isn’t exactly forgiving, but almost certainly will yield plenty more opportunities to establish a stronger track record against stronger teams for the 8-4, 17th-ranked Pacers.

“We have a chance this week with a lot of good opponents to prove ourselves again,” said Enid coach Robb Mills.

It’s easier to count the teams that aren’t ranked than the ones that are in the Bruce Gray bracket, only six seed Mustang and bottom seed Putnam City West not being listed in the top 20 of their respective classes. The fourth-seeded Pacers — the tournament’s No. 2 seed entering the previous two years’ editions — open against 5A No. 16 Lawton MacArthur (4-5) at 4 p.m. in Thursday’s opening round.

The Pacers’ placement means a likely route through top-seeded tournament host Deer Creek, which at 9-4 is ranked fourth in Class 5A.

“That’s a tough side of the bracket,” Mills said.

But despite the loss to Lawton Eisenhower, Mills added that the Pacers, now more a dark horse than a tournament favorite, has told his team that now is as good a time as any to cement its status as a late-season threat.

“We did talk about the fact that we’re playing pretty good basketball,” he said. “We could have done some things differently against Ike — we didn’t shoot it well, and we had been shooting well — but lately we’ve been sharing the basketball and shooting free throws.”