By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
High school basketball season is almost here.
Mid-Del figures to have some of the best girls and boys teams in Class 5A.
The Del City and Carl Albert boys were the last two standing in 5A last year, while Midwest City is looking to rebound after a down year.
The Lady Titans are coming off a state semifinal run but will look for new leaders in the lineup. Midwest City’s girls have a mix of returning starters and newcomers while a talented young cast has
Del City excited about the future.
Scheduling will look a little different this year as the OSSAA implements districts for Class 5A and 6A basketball. Teams will play all seven schools in their district both home and away in addition to three regular season tournaments.
Carl Albert will play in District 5A-1 along with Crossings Christian, El Reno, Guthrie, Elgin, Shawnee, Altus and Western Heights. Del City and Midwest City are both in District 5A-2 along with Southeast, Lawton MacArthur, John Marshall, Noble, Guymon and Santa Fe South.
Carl Albert and Midwest City will kick off their seasons on Friday. Carl Albert travels to El Reno and Midwest City is at Noble. Del City’s first games will be Dec. 5 at home against Guymon.
The Carl Albert boys are coming off a state runner-up finish, with many of those players returning this season. The Titans will be led by seniors Jayden Mott, Quincy Hopkins, Ryan Reynolds, Casey Baker and Hutch Russell.
“We’ll rely on them a lot for leadership and experience they’ve had,” said coach Jay Price. “We have some younger players that will come along and get prepared to help us late in the season.”
Sophomores Steven Anderson and Jayden Hopkins should also be contributors on varsity.
Mott, who committed to Northern Illinois, said their team has the experience and maturity to make another run at the gold ball.
“We know what we want, and we know what it takes to get there,” he said. “We’ve been there. We understand what it takes, and we’ll get it done.
The Titans will have big shoes to fill at point guard after Jordan England graduated.
Del City has grown into one of the top boys programs in the state under coach Lenny Hatchett. The Eagles have won titles in two of the last three season and played in the finals five straight years (minus 2020 when the tournament was canceled). They’re looking to keep that going this season.
“These guys know expectations and we’ve been to state all eight years since I’ve been here,” Hatchett said. “This team doesn’t want to be the one that does not make state. And anything can happen when you get there.”
The team lost several key players from last year including Brandon Garrison, Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year, and Percy Green. Some of the top returning players include seniors Kentrell Thurston and Quinton Edwards, juniors Jashawn McCalister and D’Marion Turner.
“We have a big group of seniors back and lot of these guys were juniors last year playing against the senior and now they’re getting a chance to compete,” Hatchett said. “Kentrell Thurston played some good minutes as a junior and Quinton Edwards is a 6-foot-7 kid who played inside for us.”
Thurston said he’s ready for a bigger role this season.
“I need to step up and be a leader and be more vocal,” he said.
The Eagles could also get a boost with senior Ladanian Fields, who is a standout on the football team. Fields played at Southeast last year where he was a 1,000-point scorer as a junior.
“We’d love to have Ladanian play for us,” Hatchett said. “He’s a great student athlete and a great basketball player.”
There’s a lot of excitement around the Midwest City boys team this year.
Former Bomber standout Torey Noel takes over as head coach of his alma mater. Noel was an assistant at Midwest City and Choctaw the past few years.
“Coaching here is very surreal and there are a lot of emotions with it,” Noel said. “I wake up every day and thank God for this opportunity.”
Noel will also get some help from his former coach Dewayne Bradley who will serve as an assistant.
“Having coach Bradley here is great,” Noel said. “He’s here every day and tells me what I can do to get better. He really wants to help.”
Another former Bomber DJ Walter will also help on the coaching staff.
Noel wants to see Midwest City again be a perennial state title contender.
“I’m excited, I’m ready to get it and bring it back,” he said.
The Bombers are coming off a rough campaign in 2022-23. The young team took their lumps as they adjusted to varsity level.
“We were kind of all like freshmen on the court last year and now we have a year under our belt and I think it’s going to show,” said sophomore Deshawn Denson.
Denson and senior Roy Henderson are two of the top returning starters from last year. Their roster will also get a boost from newcomer Carlsheon Young, an Oklahoma State commit. The 6-foot-4 combo guard went to Newcastle last year and originally planned to play at Huntington Prep in West Virginia this year.
“He’s a big-time player and scorer,” Noel said.
Noel said his team is still coming together and trying to develop consistency, especially on defense.
“We really just need more reps and more games to get better,” he said.
The Lady Titans basketball team will have a different look this year.
The team took some big hits with graduation, as they lost the trio of Ariana Diaz, Kennedy Cofer and Kamryn Sutton. They were all three-year starters who helped reach the state semifinals last year.
But there is plenty of talent on the roster. Sophomores Jakary Brown, Skylar Anderson, Audrey Plunkett and Essence Curry and seniors Ausha Moore, who was a second-team all-conference selection, and Lanie Moore will lead the squad in 2023-24. Several of those players saw playing time in the state tournament last year.
Junior Evi Mitchell is also returning after missing all of last year with an Achilles injury.
Coach Kyle Richey said he likes the team’s versatility that has allowed to them work numerous rotations.
“You never know when we’re in serious foul trouble or have an injury,” he said. “These girls can play a lot of different roles.”
Richey said they’ve faced some tough competition this preseason and more is on the way with district play. They open against talented El Reno squad.
“We put them through some tough scrimmages and we needed to see that,” Richey said.
The Lady Eagles were young and talented last year.
That foundation has coach Mariah White excited about the possibilities this season.
“We really think we can be top three in our district and get further in the playoffs,” White said. “Last year we lost one game before the area tournament, so we want to get there.”
Junior Shelby Thornton and the sophomore trio of Sacha Hunt, Courtnie McCarroll and Reina Lewis will give Lady Eagles a strong foundation.
Hunt and McCarroll were outstanding scorers last year as freshman. McCarroll will play a bigger role at point guard this year.
The 6-foot-2 Thornton is a solid scorer, rebounder and defender in the paint. She was a second-team all-conference selection. She’s improved her confidence and offense this offseason, White said.
“She has grown tremendously with her scoring and confidence,” White said. “We’re learning to get her the ball the in her strong spots on the floor and she’s been doing really well.”
Hunt is expected to miss the first few games of the season.
The Midwest City girls basketball team will have a few new faces in the lineup this season. The Lady Bombers return several key players but will need to rely on others to fill new roles this season.
“We’re kind of young and we have a lot of girls that played JV before but will need to step up on varsity,” said senior De’Yanna Douglas. “We’re learning a lot and getting better.”
Douglas is the team’s top returning players. The 6-foot-1 seniors is a consistent scorer, rebounder, and defender in the paint.
The Lady Bombers were bit by the injury bug before the season started. Saliyah Landon and Sierra Martin will both miss the start of the season with injury. Both were starters last year.
“Saliyah Landon was our second leading scorer and rebounder last year and Sierra is a big guard who can shoot it,” said coach Megan Knight.
Saniyah Gaddis will step in at point guard this year.
“I never played point guard before but I’m learning and getting used to it,” she said.
Knight said one of the biggest keys for the Lady Bombers will be playing gritty defense. She changed the team’s defense this offseason due to a shorter bench.