LOCUST GROVE, OK —
Locust Grove head boys basketball coach Ronnie Maple has his young team headed into the 2013-14 season with the same goal in mind as always.
“Our expectations are always to win a state championship,” said Maple. “I feel like I have some really good underclassmen led by a pretty good senior.”
That senior, guard Taylor Halpain, is the only one on the 10th-ranked Pirate squad. Halpain is a two-year starter that will help handle the ball and is dangerous from beyond the arc. The senior captain also helps give his team an identity with his fiery red haircut in an 80s-style mullet, which gave the team its “Mullet Nation” tag last season.
“There are all these different nations, people think they are like ‘Mohawk Nation,’ so I decided to be different and get a mullet. The ladies love it and it means work hard, play hard,” Halpain said.
Juniors Tyler Rowland and Colton Pike also return from last year’s starting lineup. Rowland is a dominant threat everywhere on the court and will receive playing time as a guard and small forward. Pike serves as Locust Grove’s big man with his 6-foot-3 frame in the paint at center.
The Pirates will miss point guard David Stone and forward Reed Bryant, who helped carry the team to a 21-7 record last season as seniors.
“David and Reed are both really good players, but the first ones off the bench last year were Mason Fine and Jason Pirtle and they have a chance to come into a starting position this year, but they have to compete with Zach Robinson,” Maple said.
Pirtle, Fine, and Robinson are all sophomores from last year’s freshman conference championship team. Fellow sophomores Zach Bailey and Cutter Stamper could see some time on the floor as well.
In terms of experience, the Locust Grove girls are almost opposite of the boys team. The Lady Pirates are led by six seniors who have all received playing time since their sophomore year.
Point guard Sydnie Pierce is a four-year starter and guard Bailey Holman also found playing time her freshman year.
“We have a lot of experience. Most of us have seen varsity time since freshman and sophomore year and we have gotten the hang of Coach [Justin] Brown’s system,” Pierce said.
The team also features a plunder of players who found themselves in the starting lineup last season. Pierce and junior Madison Davis were the only players who started every game last year. The Lady Pirates’ starting roster varies on the opponent and game plan.
The Locust Grove basketball teams are scheduled to begin their seasons Dec. 10 at home, but the date could change due to the football playoffs.
The Pirates will host the Locust Grove Invitational Jan. 6-11 and will play in the Pryor Invitational Jan. 20-25.
See the ScoreCard on Page 2B for Locust Grove's full 2013-14 schedule.