By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Pacers coach Robb Mills respects the tradition of a Woodward girls basketball program which has hit hard times lately, but has eight state championships.
The Pacers have had close calls their last two trips to Woodward — 56-51 and 60-53. The Pacers and Plainsmen go to Woodward for a 6:30 doubleheader tonight.
“When I first got here 10 years ago, it was one of the toughest games of the season,’’ Mills said. “I expect it to be the same type of environment. You can’t take anything for granted.’’
The Boomer girls fell to 3A state runnerup Alva 65-36 in their season opener last week. Amanda Covalt was the lone Woodward player in double figures with 11 points.
Enid, ranked No. 18 in 6A, rallied to beat 4A No. 17 Elk City, 45-39 in overtime last week. EHS rallied back from a three-point deficit in the last 1:30 to force an overtime.
“I thought we played really good defense,’’ Mills said. “We obviously had some rust as far as shooting in the gym (Enid Event Center) for the first time. We struggled a little bit in our shooting and we had too many turnovers, but I was happy with the way the girls responded. We could have folded and gone the other way. The only thing I asked them was to play hard on defense and we did.’’
Andi Pierce led the Pacers with 17 points, while Abby Lee had nine. They will be joined in the starting lineup by Haven Bay, Grace Enmeier and Shelley Mueller. Enmeier had a season-high 12 points in last year’s game at Woodward while Bay had 10.
“The big key for us will be keeping our composure, playing our game and cutting down on turnovers,’’ Mills said.
The Pacers face Coweta at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Tahlequah Tournament. The boys play host Tahlequah at 11:30 a.m.
The homecourt advantage never was more evident last year than in the Enid-Woodward boys series.
The Plainsmen lost at Woodward 66-46, only to win by 21 points on their home floor (54-33). Of course, the year before EHS won at Woodward (51-43), only to lose at home (48-34). Woodward is ranked No. 16 in Class 4A.
“It’s a tough place to go out and play,’’ said EHS coach Ryan Wilkinson. “They have a good homecourt environment and we’ll have to play well to win.’’
The opponents took different paths in their openers last week. The Boomers beat Alva 61-44 behind 18 points from Ty Richey, who had five three-pointers; and 17 points from Taylan Iliff. Enid fell to 4A Elk City 73-53 despite a 22-point effort from Braden Rogers.
“They have a lot of real good shooters,’’ Wilkinson. “We have to find their shooters and we need to keep Iliff out of the paint.’’
Wilkinson said he wasn’t concerned with his team bouncing back from the loss.
“I know they will come back and play hard,’’ he said. “They knew they let one get away. We’re working on fixing the problems and going on from there. We’re playing with some guys who don’t have a lot of experience. They may have some growing pains before they get comfortable with their new roles at the varsity level.’’
Wilkinson said EHS will start the same lineup it did against Elk City.
The games can be heard on KGWA Radio (960 AM).