By Ron Holt
After a productive 2019-20 season, featuring an inexperienced roster, Bixby High’s girls’ basketball team carries elevated expectations into season opening games this week.
2020-21 season but realize the early season competition will be challenging.
“Jenks is 2-0 and ranked No. 18 in last week’s rankings,” Coach Thomas said. “This is always a competitive match.” The Bixby-Jenks girls’ game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. in JHS’s Frank Herald Field House.
Following the Frontier Conference Valley opener, the seventh-ranked Lady Spartans turn their focus to the tournament, which features several ranked teams. Scheduled to compete are Class 6A’s No. 2 Moore, No. 6 Edmond North, No. 13 Sand Springs and No. 14 Edmond Memorial along with Class 5A’s third-ranked Sapulpa.
Bixby faces the OKC Storm homeschool team in the opener at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10. In other first-round games Edmond North meets Sand Springs at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sapulpa tests Edmond Memorial at 3:30 p.m. and Moore takes on Putnam City at 5 p.m.
“It’s an extremely competitive field. We should get to see a lot of great basketball,” said Thomas, who will be assisted by Kristin Atkinson and Corbin Burchett.
Like all other teams, Bixby has faced challenges in preseason practices and scrimmages because of coronavirus concerns. After a slow preseason start, the Lady Spartans’ workload had increased in recent weeks.
Senior guard Kate Bradley, a three-year starter, is providing leadership while sophomores Gracy Wernli, Gentry Baldwin, Alyssa Nielsen and Meredith Mayes saw starting time and played key roles last season as freshmen.
“We were really struggling early with illness and quarantines. We went several weeks in October with only about six in the gym at a time,” coach Thomas noted. “After that rough patch we have had most girls every day. They’re working hard and making the most of every opportunity in the gym.
“Kate Bradley’s experience and leadership are setting a great tone and high expectations in the gym. Our sophomore group have a year of experience under their belts and are balanced with ace three-point shooting from Gracy and Gentry and great balance inside with Alyssa and Meredith. Meredith has had 10-plus rebounds in every scrimmage this year.”
Bixby finishes December visiting Bartlesville (Dec. 18) and competing in the Mustang Holiday Classic Tournament (Dec. 28-30).
Bixby Girls Invitational
THURSDAY (Dec. 10)
2 p.m. – Edmond North vs. Sand Springs; 3:30 p.m. – Moore vs. Putnam City; 5 p.m. – Sapulpa vs. Edmond Memorial; 6:30 p.m. – Bixby vs. OKC Storm.
FRIDAY (Dec. 11)
2 p.m. – Moore-Putnam City loser vs. Edmond North-Sand Springs loser; 3:30 p.m. – Bixby-OKC Storm loser vs. Sapulpa-Edmond Memorial loser); 5 p.m. – Moore-Putnam City winner vs. Edmond North-Sand Springs winner; 6:30 p.m. – Bixby-OKC Storm winner vs. Sapulpa-Edmond Memorial winner.
SATURDAY (Dec. 12)
2 p.m. – Seventh Place Game; 3:30 p.m. – Consolation Finals; 5 p.m. – Third Place Game; 6:30 p.m. – Championship Game.