The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 29, 2012

Pioneer cagers are ready to open season

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Pioneer fans may need a program to identify the players when the Mustang boys host Chisholm in their season opener tonight.

The girls game will tip off at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 8.

Pioneer graduated all five starters from last year’s 26-3 team that advanced to the state tournament.

Colby Koontz, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, who averaged 6.1 points and 6.2 rebounds, is out until at least Christmas.

“There’s going to be a lot of new faces,’’ said veteran Pioneer coach Brandon Gallagher. “I’m sure there’s going to be some adjustment time. We are ready to start playing. We have been practicing long enough. There’s a lot of difference between games and scrimmages. We’re ready to get it going.’’

Gallagher said the Mustangs have “looked good at times,’’ in the preseason.

“We have been moving guys around some,’’ Gallagher said. “It’s going to be interesting. We’re going to have to build chemistry and take leadership roles.’’

The Mustangs will be starting 6-foot-2 senior guard Nick Denker, 5-11 senior guard Aaron Chain, 6-5 junior forward Blake Gabriel, 5-11 sophomore guard Brandon McNaughton and 5-6 sophomore guard Sage Lamunyon.

Austin Rogers and Jerry Green will be coming off the bench.

“We’re still just feeling things out,’’ Gallagher said. “I just don’t know what kind of team we’re going to have.’’

Gallagher will use the early part of the season for evaluation.

“We’ll use this time to figure things out,’’ he said. “We’ll play hard and try to get better If you do that, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.’’

The Pioneer girls are upbeat in coach Slade Young’s second season.

“It’s been a lot easier this year,’’ Young said. “We have everything almost implemented. It’s gone a lot smoother. We’re not having to spend time teaching drills, offenses and defenses.’’

The Lady Mustangs will be going with a lineup of Shelby Flavell, Hope Yerian, Kylee McVey, Bayli Koontz and Carli Woolsey.

“We’re excited about the season,’’ Young said. “Everybody has been working hard and everybody has a good attitude. We’re headed in the right direction. We’re way ahead of where we were last year. We’ll see how it turns out. We’re tired of practicing and we’re ready to play.’’