LOCUST GROVE —
The Locust Grove boys’ basketball team failed to make the 3A state tournament last season.
The team fell to Cascia Hall in the area tournament consolation finals.
The loss resulted after a close, controversial game which could have ensured consecutive state tournament appearances.
In 2011 LG qualified for the tournament for the first time in school history. A return trip to Oklahoma City is team’s goal this year.
Head Coach Ronnie Maple believes the performance of his younger players thus far is encouraging.
“Plans are always to make the state tournament and I believe if our young kids play like they did this summer, good things will happen this year,” Head Coach Ronnie Maple said.
Maple has loads of talent in his freshman and sophomore classes. His freshman class includes football standouts Mason Fine and Robert Pirtle.
Fine will see playing time as a guard and Pirtle will utilize his 6’2” height down low.
Maple said sophomores Tyler Rowland, Colton Pike, Keven Wadlow, Trenton Pierce and Wyatt Rogers can expect considerable time as well.
At 6’4”, Pike is an invaluable resource for a Pirates squad that graduated a 6’2” forward in Robert Shelley (an all-state honors recipient).
Senior Reed Bryant is expected additional contributions to shore up Shelley’s absence.
Bryant (6’2”) dunked the ball on the first possession of their debut scrimmage Oct. 25.
Locust returns senior point guard David Stone.
Stone created a buzz last season when he broke a school record with nine three-point shots against Catoosa and dropped 35 points.
Maple said Stone and Reed will both be “big impact players” this season.
At the guard position (1,2, or 3 guard?) junior Taylor Halpain and senior Colton Witt will direct the back court.
The Pirates toughest opponent looks to the Jay Bulldogs, though Vinita and Wagoner could still give LG fits.
Maple noted that Fort Gibson, Keys and Miami will enjoy the benefit of experience, which comes from many returning players.
Locust Grove will tip-off their season at home against rival Salina on Nov. 27.
Salina has yet to gain a win on the Pirates hardwood.