The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 5, 2012

Tournament time for Enid

ENID, Okla. — As the Plainsmen ready for their first tournament of the season, the UKB Tahlequah Tiger Invitational Thursday through Saturday, Enid  head coach Ryan Wilkinson still is stewing on a week-old loss to El Reno.

“We definitely have to play better than that,” he said of the Plainsmen’s 56-49 season-opening defeat. “We weren’t happy with the way we played, and we know we have to play better.”

The Plainsmen fell behind early when starters Jemarcus Jackson, Aaron Austin and Correll Baker each were whistled for their second fouls before the second quarter. Jackson led an Enid rally, finishing with 21 points as the Plainsmen closed within three points in the third quarter, but never came closer.

“(Foul trouble) was definitely a problem early,” Wilkinson said. “We had our chances late, but we didn’t capitalize on a lot of posessions, turned the ball over a lot of times in key situations, and we need to eliminate that.”

The only way to improve in those decisive stretches is to be in them, Wilkinson said.

 “These guys weren’t on the floor a lot of times in those key situations,” he said. “It’s something they have to learn how to take care of — embrace that role that they didn’t have last year.”

Getting a chance to close a game late isn’t the only opportunity Wilkinson hopes his group will have in Tahlequah. For a group that has never played as many minutes together as they will this season, the getaway could mean a tighter bond between players.

“The guys get a chance to bond,” Wilkinson said. “I think you grow as a team just because of the time that those guys get away from basketball together.”

Enid opens against Coweta at 5:30 p.m. today in a bracket that also includes Moore, Sand Springs, Tahlequah, Sapulpa, Soyla and Muskogee.

“This is a tournament that if we play up to our potential, we have a chance to win a lot of games and maybe even play for a championship,” Wilkinson said.

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