ENID, Okla. —
Forget just defending one title, Pond Creek-Hunter’s basketball program is chasing a pair of Skeltur Conference championships when the weekend tournament opens its 89th edition Thursday at the Mabee Center.
“There’s a chance,” said Lady Panthers coach Tasha Disselhorst.
PC-Hunter’s girls team, which won last year’s girls title, enters the tournament 15-3, ranked seventh in Class A and losing only once in its last eight games, falling to Class B defending state champion Lomega 65-57 despite 37 points from Panther junior Jade Jones.
The No. 10 Panther boys (15-3) are the highest-ranked team in the field, but are their bracket’s No. 2 seed behind No. 13 Drummond (17-2), a seeding decision that Panthers coach Darin Jones considers neither a slight nor a motivator.
“I think there are several teams that can win this tournament,” he said. “Ranking has nothing to do with it.”
Jones’ expectations are high, but not high enough to provide much certainty for the Panthers, winners of 12 of their last 13, including a 72-70 overtime victory against Pioneer, last year’s Skeltur champion.
“If we don’t win it, sure, I’ll be disappointed,” Jones said. “There are some really quality basketball teams in this tournament. Drummond (17-2) is, Pioneer’s record isn’t indicative of how good they are, and Garber is playing well right now … There’s a lot of teams that could win it.”
PC-Hunter opens play in the boys first round at 5:40 p.m. against No. 7 seed Waukomis (7-11), top seed Drummond plays bottom-slotted Dover at 12:20 p.m., Garber (12-4) plays No. 6 seed Covington-Douglas (7-10) at 8:20 p.m. in the nightcap, and fourth-seeded Pioneer (5-9) plays five seed Cimarron (10-9) at 3 p.m.
In the girls’ bracket, Waukomis, last year’s runner up, is again the top challenger to the Lady Panthers’ Skeltur throne. The second-seeded Lady Chiefs (12-6) opened the season 10-3 but have lost three of their last five, including a 66-46 loss to PC-Hunter on Jan. 15. Waukomis beat Drummond, the Skeltur tournament’s sixth seed, on Tuesday.
“We’re just not being as competitive as we should be,” said coach Matt Cue. “We’re talented enough, but we’re just not playing as well as we should be.”
The Lady Panthers beat Waukomis 59-47 in the 2012 final, a favor Cue isn’t concerned about returning.
At least not yet.
“We take it one game at a time,” he said. “We’ve got to get through Cimarron first. They’re (the Lady Chiefs) ready and the hungry enough and they know the playoffs are coming … I really think you’ll see a better Waukomis team at the Skeltur Tournament.”
Third-seeded Garber (13-3) is the reason PC-Hunter isn’t seeking a third straight title, eliminating the Lady Panthers from championship contention two seasons ago on a half-court buzzer beater.
But the improbable finish that also finished PC-Hunter isn’t something Diesselhorst uses as motivation for her 2013 team, however it is a reminder that a top seed doesn’t guarantee a top finish.
“I don’t think we look too much at being the top seed,” she said. “The girls know from experience we’ve been the top seed and fell short.”
Four seed Pioneer (6-6) and fifth-seeded Dover open play at the tournament at 11 a.m. Thursday, PC-Hunter play at 1:40 p.m. against eighth-seeded Covington-Douglas (4-13), Garber plays No. 6 seed Drummond (8-9) at 4:20 p.m., and seventh-seeded Cimarron (2-12) and Waukomis close girls play at 7 p.m.
Skeltur Conference Tournament
At Mabee Center
12:20 — Drummond vs. Dover
3 —Cimarron vs. Pioneer
5:40 —Waukomis vs. PC-Hunter
8:20 — Garber vs. Cov-Douglas
11 a.m. —Dover vs. Pioneer
1:40 — PC-Hunter vs. Cov-Doug
4:20 — Garber vs. Drummond
7 — Cimarron vs. Waukomis