– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
The Tournament Of Champions begins on Thursday and runs until Saturday. OKPreps will once again be your home for TOC coverage of the 54th annual winter break classic. While OKPreps won’t have live broadcasts this season, our other coverage will continue to be the best in the state. In addition to game recaps, we’ll have highlights from every game, interviews, podcast content and breakdowns throughout the week. At the conclusion of the tournament, we’ll also have a tournament most outstanding player and an All Tournament Team. Get ready for the tournament on the girls’ side, which features three top ranked teams, with our in-depth preview, starting with a look at the schedule, a breakdown of each team and players to watch.
East Central VS Varnum – 9AM
Dewar VS Muldrow – Noon
Bixby VS Tahlequah Sequoyah – 4PM
Edmond Memorial VS Victory Christian – 7PM
Ranked: #15 (6A)
Bixby comes into the Tournament Of Champions as a 6A team but somewhat of an underdog. They’ve played a tough schedule early on and have their fair share of bumps but this is a competitive team. They’ll open up the tournament against 3A’s #1 Tahlequah Sequoyah. The tournament field is loaded once again this year. Bixby will be looking for some momentum heading into January, where the schedule remains tough.
Ranked: #11 (A)
It’s still early and a lot of teams will be moving up and down the rankings. However, Dewar is a team that certainly needs to be a bit higher when it comes to the Class A rankings. This is a young team that has some absolute talent. With only a few seniors on the roster in general, this is a Dewar team that we could see dominate for a few years. Don’t be surprised if this Class A school gets a win or two this week in Tulsa.
EAST CENTRAL (2-3)
Ranked: #6 (5A)
East Central is a regular at the Tournament Of Champions and this year is no different. Last year broke a seven year streak of being in the Tournament Of Champions. The Lady Cardinals are back, but they bring into the tournament a rare losing record. They were knocked off by unbeaten Will Rogers in overtime last week. Returning to a familiar site in the Mabee Center might be just want the Lady Cards need to get back on the right track.
EDMOND MEMORIAL (8-0)
Ranked: #1 (6A)
Edmond Memorial comes into the tournament as a #1 team with an undefeated record. The Lady Bulldogs are hoping this is the first of two trips to ORU’s Mabee Center this season. And while they might be the top ranked team in Class 6A, they don’t have an easy draw when it comes to the tournament schedule. They open up against a Victory Christian team that is one of the best defensive teams in the state.
Ranked: #1 (4A)
Muldrow returns to the Tournament Of Champions for the second straight year and they might come into the tournament as the favorite. They made it to the tourney championship game a year ago and fell to eventual 6A state champion Owasso. Muldrow has all of their stars back for another run and they won’t back down from any of the teams they could end up seeing throughout the three-day stretch in Tulsa.
TAHLEQUAH SEQUOYAH (6-1)
Ranked: #1 (3A)
Tahlequah Sequoyah returns to the Tournament Of Champions and this is a team that will be no stranger to the bright lights of the Mabee Center. Sequoyah will be a tough draw against whoever they play this week. They’ve already beaten Booker T Washington by 21 points earlier this month. The Lady Indians wouldn’t mind running into Victory Christian this week. The Lady Conquerors handed Sequoyah their only loss this season.
Ranked: #3 (B)
Varnum is the smallest school in the tournament field but this is the tournament where small schools can pull big upsets. According to the latest ADM from the OSSAA, Varnum has an enrollment of 80 students. However, all it takes is a few to make a real impact on the basketball floor. While Varnum might feel like an underdog in this tournament field, they’ll feel like a true contender later in the season when it comes to the Class B state tourney.
VICTORY CHRISTIAN (6-1)
Ranked: #5 (4A)
Victory Christian lost their season opener to Holland Hall but since then, the Lady Conquerors have been giant killers. Victory beat 5A’s #1 Coweta in the Inola tournament and followed that up with a win over 4A’s #1 Fort Gibson to win the tourney title. They also went on the road and beat 3A’s #1 Tahlequah Sequoyah. It’s still early but the fact that half of their wins have come over top ranked teams should worry opponents.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gem Summers – Guard – Victory Christian
Victory Christian is one of the best defensive teams and that comes from their athleticism and being one of the longest teams in the state. However, leading the charge on offense for Victory is guard Gem Summers. She’s a floor general when she needs to be, getting teammates involved. She can also take over a game by scoring the ball at will in a variety of ways.
Lexy Keys – Guard – Tahlequah Sequoyah
The junior guard surpassed 1,000 career points earlier this month. Keys has been the key for Tahlequah Sequoyah in their recent run of state championships. She was the MVP of their title run as a freshman and she continues to be one of the best players in the state. If a team can slow down Keys, which simply doesn’t happen very often, they might have a chance.
Taylen Collins – Forward – Muldrow
The Muldrow junior was a breakout star at the Tournament Of Champions last year as a sophomore. Collins is one of the best athletes in the tournament field and she did not play like a young sophomore in last year’s tournament. If she continues to grow her game, she’ll be one of the top players in the state when her high school career comes to a close.