– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
A legend in Oklahoma high school basketball has decided to call it quits. On Monday evening, the news broke that longtime Fort Gibson girls basketball coach Jerry Walker was retiring. Walker will be taking a principal position at Porter, but will be hanging up his whistle. With his retirement, one of the more incredible careers has come to a close.
Walker has coached at Fort Gibson for 22 seasons and led them to the state championship game on eight different occasions. His Lady Tigers won three state championships during that time. They captured the gold ball in 2011, 2013 and 2014. When they won their first state title in 2011, they did it in style with a perfect season.
After 22 seasons, Walker amassed an unbelievable record of 518-94. It was no secret that the Lady Tigers didn’t lose many games. However, even writing that record just seems crazy and something you have to fact check. Fort Gibson just didn’t lose. They really haven’t lost in the last 13 years.
That’s how many consecutive seasons Fort Gibson has made it to the state tournament. They’ve been a mainstay at the Big House in Oklahoma City during the month of March. They’ve been unbeatable at home for nearly a decade. Their last loss on the home floor came in December of 2008.
Since the start of their perfect season during the 2010-2011 season, Fort Gibson has a record of 196-9. They’ll enter the 2017-2018 season with a new head coach but an impressive winning streak. They’ve won 49 consecutive games during the regular season. However, the last two years have ended in heartbreak. Fort Gibson took undefeated seasons into the state tournament in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, they were stunned by Broken Bow in the first round. Earlier this year, they made it all the way to the title game but lost to Harrah.
OKPreps witnessed Fort Gibson’s dominance first hand back in December at the Tournament of Champions. During three days at the Mabee Center, Walker’s Lady Tigers beat three top-ranked teams in three days to capture the tournament crown. They beat 5A’s #1 Collinsville, 3A’s #1 Adair and 6A’s #1 Choctaw in consecutive days to win the TOC.
Besides all the ridiculous numbers that seem out of this world, one thing is more impressive than all of it. Walker’s teams never had that massive star. The Lady Tigers would take the floor and even though they weren’t loaded with future D1 talent, you knew they were the better team. A lot of that can be attributed to the coaching of Jerry Walker.
It’s an end of an era for Walker’s Lady Tigers. We may never see a coaching career quite like it.