Okmulgee Bulldogs Girls Basketball
Okmulgee Bulldogs Boys Basketball
Bulldogs to take fans on exciting ride
Coach Johnny Dreyer looks forward to basketbal life in new Heartland Conference
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
Okmulgee High School basketball fans are in for a major treat this season. The Bulldogs will be one of the most athletic and most exciting prep teams in the area.
Coach Johnny Dreyer’s latest OHS varsity squad is an equal mix of speed, quickness, and raw talent. Throw in the aggressive style on both ends of the court, and you come away with an entertaining basketball squad.
On Tuesday, the Brock Gym fanatics enjoyed a pulsating victory over the visiting Eufaula Ironheads. Coach Dreyer and assistant coach Gary Robbins fashioned the 9-point win by mixing and matching starters and reserves over the 32-minute performance.
The five starters for the opener included senior Kionte’ Allen and juniors Delton Bagby, Tyler Lawrence, D.J. Wallace, and Cameron Johnson.
The front-line reserves included seniors Jordan Young, Dayvon Hawkins, and Chris Morgan, plus junior Trenton Hamilton and freshman Michael Simmons.
Other reserves include seniors Keith Gardner and Prince Hill, juniors Isaiah Jimboy and Paul Williams, and sophomore Colin Skinner.
Okmulgee will play a full-tilt, full-bore approach on offense and defense. That’s what Eufaula found out when the Ironheads invaded ‘The Brock’ for the season opener for both basketball teams.
The Bulldog defense kept sending waves of players to attack the ball - often from the time it was in-bounded in the backcourt. The guards made it very difficult for Eufaula to run a conventional half-court offense. Wallace was the most aggressive as he fronted his EHS counterpart. But it was not just the tenacious Wallace battling hard on defense. Virtually every pass was challenged - and each drive to the lane attracted a herd of Bulldog defenders.
Lawrence and Johnson patrolled the interior for OHS. Both defended the inside area and were active on the defensive glass. They also stepped into the passing lanes and blocked out Eufaula players on rebound opportunities.
Allen was a magician with his long-range shooting touch. He opened the game (and the season) with three consecutive treys. Each shot arced over the rim and dropped smoothly into the net. ‘KiKi’ later added a second-quarter trey to force Eufaula to defend the outside scoring attack. His clutch scoring was vital in the win over the Ironheads - and will be crucial to the future success of the Bulldogs.
Delton Bagby is now in his second season with the Okmulgee Bulldogs. The former Preston Pirate has been an excellent addition to the OHS backcourt. He is a proven defensive force, but also an excellent shooter and ball-handler for the offense.
The third guard is certainly the most flashy. D.J. Wallace is ultra-talented and ultra-quick. He is one of the best offensive weapons with his highlight-reel drives to the basket and his fearless 3-point shooting. He is, almost always, automatic from the free throw line. In close games, that skill could be the difference in a win or a loss.
Tyler Lawrence and Cameron Johnson are the starting post players. Both are solid and active in the paint when playing on the defensive end.
Lawrence is fairly new to organized basketball, having played only four years. Even so, his backup role last season has been upgraded to a full-blown starter.
“I think Tyler is starting to feel comfortable,” Coach Dreyer said. “He’s just getting used to playing with those other kids. Once he feels comfortable and turns loose, he is going to be a good player on the offensive and defensive ends. Jordan Young, too, didn’t play much last year. But I am expecting big things from him this year.”
Cameron Johnson, at 5-10, is a bit short for a power forward. However, the junior standout uses his quickness and physical ability to terrorize opponents on defense. He is also a knock-down shooter on the offensive end of the court. If the coaches wanted him to run the offense, Johnson is more than capable of playing the point.
For the coaches, it is not just one player or even the starting unit that has them excited. It’s the entire roster of Bulldogs. They provide OHS options that were previously unavailable.
“I feel real good about our kids,” Coach Dreyer said. “We have a little bit of height, we have some quickness, we have some speed, we have some shooters, and we’ve got some post players. We have a well-rounded ball club. On different nights, different guys are going to step up. It just depends on the team we are going to play. But I am really excited about the group of kids we have this year. We have quite a few kids out for the basketball team ... and we have quite a few kids that can play!”
With so many kids able to do so many different things, there could be confusion among the players to know what they should be doing at a given moment. Coach Dreyer is trying to make sure that does not happen to the Bulldogs.
“Coach Rob and I talk about it all the time,” he said. “We keep telling them to ‘know your role, know your role.’ Depending on what teams we play, your role may change. You may be a defensive player one night and the next night you may be a scorer for us. We are playing quite a few kids. That’s a luxury we do have this season.We can play 10 kids and not drop off (talent-wise).”
The Bulldogs will focus a lot of energy on defense. The plan will be to have the guards press the ball from the outside - knowing they have ‘insurance’ behind them.
“This year we have the luxury of having some bigs (big players) inside to where our guards can put a little more pressure and if they do get beat, we do have a big inside ready to protect that basket. The last couple of years we haven’t had anybody to protect that basket, but this year we have two or three different kids that can stand back there and protect it. Our guards can put on a little more pressure and there’s more chances of a steal.”
Fans love to see the exciting 3-point bombs. However, the coaching staff wants to see the Bulldogs connecting on a high percentage of free throws too. They’ll be counted upon to do the little things to earn their way to the free throw line.
“We’ve been preaching to our kids that when we need a basket, let’s attack it, attack it! In the past, we’ve been a little too ‘3’ happy. But now we are attack, attack, attack, and get to that free throw line. We practice a lot on those free throws in practice. Plus, if we are stuggling from the outside, I tell the kids to attack just so you can see that ball going through the net. Maybe then, we can shoot that 3. That free throw line can string good things for you.”
As for the new schedule, Coach Dreyer is thrilled with the new Heartland Conference the Bulldogs have joined this season. Gone from the OHS schedule are the private Tulsa schools. They are being replaced by high schools from area communities. The passion of these more rural programs is clearly reflected in the spirited support they received from their fans.
“The crowds can be a little bit bigger,” the Bulldog boss said. “Eufaula brings a good crowd. Haskell brings a good crowd. And our fans will be more willing to travel because they don’t have to travel as far to see our games.”
The larger crowd means a more vocal crowd. It is something the players and coaches notice.
“The atmosphere is changing,” the OHS head coach said. “We had quite a few fans there cheering for our Bulldogs (in the home game with Eufaula on Tuesday). Even my kids were mentioning we had a bigger crowd this year than we did last year! But I told them that ‘if you play hard, they will come to watch you play!’”
Coach Dreyer has a secret weapon at OHS. He has a world-class assistant coach in Gary Robbins helping him coach the Bulldogs to that next level.
“There’s sometimes I get a little out of whack,” he said. “That is one thing about Coach Rob: He is not afraid to tell me what he thinks or what we should be doing. It’s great to have him as a part of this team.”
As for the players, they go about their business the correct way. That has impressed the OHS coaches.
“They play hard for us,” Coach Dreyer said. “They give us everything they have. They do everything we ask. That’s about all we can ask of them!”
As for the fans, the head coach is inviting them to be active in support of the high school basketball players.
“I’d just like our fans to keep on coming out for these kids,” he said. “They work hard for us in practice. I want our fans in the community of Okmulgee to see that all the hard work they are putting in in the gym is paying off for us.”
Buckle up for this season. It will surely be an exciting ride.
Lady Bulldogs building for a banner
Coach Dwight Pankey looking to return Okmulgee to championship glory
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
Coach Dwight Pankey is back at the helm of the Okmulgee Lady Bulldogs basketball program. The longtime coach believes good things are in store for his OHS squad.
“It is a tremendous feeling to be back (coaching the Lady Bulldogs),” he said. “I am real excited about the athletes we have.”
In 1991, Coach Beth Flud engineered a successful state championship run for the Okmulgee Lady Bulldogs. A red championship banner hangs in Brock Gym - the home of the OHS teams. According to Coach Dwight Pankey, it’s about time to hang another banner.
“My goal is to put a (state championship) banner up in here for basketball,” he said. “This is not a one-year deal. The opportunity is there!”
The trip to gold may take a while. However, the Lady Bulldogs are working hard right not to lay the foundation for that future title run.
Coach Pankey and assistant coach Pam White have been working with the girls for the past six months - including a competitive summer basketball league and lots of strength and conditioning drills.
“They have been working since the summer,” he said. “They were required to come out three days per week (to play basketball) and to stay afterwards to lift and get into condition.”
The Lady Bulldogs then went “on the road until October 1.” The squad then began to polish its basketball skills after the Oct. 1 date.
Having Coach White on his staff has been a wonderful blessing for the head coach.
“She knows the game of basketball,” Coach Pankey said. “She comes to us from Tulsa but is homegrown and played for Okmulgee High School. One of the reasons I took the job was knowing I would have her helping coach these kids.”
Coach White did not come alone to her old stomping grounds. The 1984 OHS graduate has brought two daughters who are outstanding athletes.
“One is a freshman and the other is a senior - Monica,” Coach Pankey said. “Monica is our floor general out there on the court.”
Monica White is the only senior on the Lady Bulldog roster. She is a 5-10 forward who can drive to the basket to score - or step back and launch shots from behind the 3-point line. She is also a fierce rebound on both ends of the floor.
Joining the Okmulgee senior among the top players (at the start of the season) are 8 juniors, 2 sophomores and 3 freshmen.
The junior class includes Diamond Powdrill, 5-9, forward; Brandi Edwards, 5-2, guard; Jordan Cazenave, 5-11,forward; Kimberly Jordan, 5-8, forward; Michalle Trulove, 5-4, guard; Timberlyn Shirley, 5-7, guard; Arrianna Nunley, 5-3, guard; and newcomer Daijha Cobb, 5-6, guard, who played on the OKC Northeast state championship basketball team last spring.
The sophomores on the squad include Terreka Huddleston, a 5-9 forward and Makia Lewis, a 5-4 guard. Huddleston saw lots of minutes on the court and developed into a very good scorer around the rim. She also was a top rebounder.
Okmulgee will suit up at least 3 freshmen on the varsity squad. The group includes Myia Sutton, Mikayla Penn and Laura Mason.
The OHS coaches are blending the veteran playes with the newcomers Monica White and Daijha Cobb and also the incoming freshman. The goal is to take that obviously talent and blend it with a good chemistry to turn OHS into a winning program.
“We took them to two ORU camps this summer- and experienced a lot of bigger schools that we played. The kids got compliments from a lot of the schools. We did pretty good. The only thing we did during the summer was put in maybe one in-bounds play and one defense and that was pretty-much it. They played off of talent (alone) and got after it.”
Okmulgee has since installed a new offense and a new defense and a lot of other different things.
“The kids are all excited,” he said. “The confidence level is up and that’s a good thing. The girls are going to play together and we are going to be scrappy. We’ll play from the time that clock starts until it ends.”
Coach Pankey is excited about the different options he will have in designing his attack against opponents.
“We are going to mix it up alot,” he said. “We can go big with anyone. We can go small ... or we can go quick!”
Fans are familiar with guard Brandi Edwards. The 5-2 junior point guard returns following an outstanding sophomore campaign. She is a good ball-handler and passer, but is best known for her deadly 3-point scoring ability. Edwards gives Okmulgee that outside threat that will keep opposing defenses from packing the post area during OHS’ half-court offensive sets.
“The other (player) that’s going to be a dark shadow for us is Michalle Trulove,” Coach Pankey said. “Michalla played last year but she didn’t get a lot of playing time.”
Trulove is expected to be a factor this season on offense and defense.
Arrianna Nunley is another guard with some varsity experience last season. She should be called on to provide excellent depth at the guard position.
The fourth guard that is expected to contribute to the win total is Daijha Cobb.
“She will help us too,” the coach said of Cobb.
The inside players for the Lady Bulldogs include some returning forwards.
Coach Pankey will count on at least 5 girls to see extensive playing time, including Kimberly Jordan, Timberlyn Shirley, Diamond Powdrill, Jordan Cazenave and Terreka Huddleston.
“That’s pretty-much it,” the coach said of his front-line forwards or post players. “Our plan is to rotate 5 and 5 (into game situations),” he said. “But we’ll mix it up, too.”
Defensively, Okmulgee will employ a pressure attack most of the time - attempting to disrupt the opposing offense and force turnovers and break-away scoring opportunities.
“We will do a lot of pressing,” the coach added. “We’ll play a zone a little bit, but our main one will be man-to-man (defense).”
Okmulgee will have plenty of time to work on the defensive phases. That’s because this is not a one-year plan.
“We’re only losing 1 senior (after this season),” Coach Pankey said. “We’ll have everyone else coming back. Plus, we have 28 girls in the eight grade that are going to be over here (OHS) next year. That’s going to be our future. We are probably going to have the biggest front line in the state of Oklahoma. We’ve got the kids that can play. So this is not all about just one season or one team. We are going to build from this season and continue on next season and the season after that and so on! I am excited about the future of this program.”
Fans will also see major changes in this year’s basketball schedule. Gone from the annual list of opponents will be the private schools in Tulsa like Victory Christian, Metro Christian and Cascia Hall. They will be replaced by a more ‘rural’ list of foes - with teams from smaller communities like Morris, Beggs, Eufaula, Haskell and Kelleyville. The move was made, in part, to accomodate OHS joining an area basketball conference.
“Looking at the schedule, with what we have on this paper (team roster) and what we’ve got in our minds, we just love it. But we are going to take it one game at a time. The kids were talking about the rankings. They ranked all these teams from last year and Okmulgee was nowhere in sight. We don’t worry about that. If you win, it takes care of itself. I’m a firm believer in working hard. You’ve got to work hard. And these kids have answered the bell for us thing year. We’ve put a lot on their plate. They are getting the system down on what we are going to do on offense and defense. Plus, we are going to change up a lot of stuff out on the floor and they’ve got to react to it. Our goal is to cut down on the number of turnovers they had last year. We are going to chip away and let the chips fall where they may. They are excited and ready to open up the season.”
Fans are urged to get to the gym and check out the new edition of Lady Bulldogs.
“A lot of people have been asking me about our talent,” he said. “Just come and see. We are going to try and make it happen this year. These kids have been working awful hard. We can run with anyone. If they don’t want to run, we can slow it down. The thing we want to do is control the (tempo of the) game the best we can. We are going to try to take what’s to our advantage and do that our on the court. I’m so excited that I can’t sleep right now.’ We are going to run a fast-tempo game. That’s our game. I’m like Boone Pickens. You build it and the athletes are going to come. And they are coming ... they’re coming!”
Season tickets on sale for basketball games
$30 pricetag is admission for all home games
Season tickets are now on sale for basketball games for the Okmulgee elementary, junior high and high school home games.
The season tickets are $30 per person (all ages) and will provide for admission to all of the regular-season home games during the 2013-2014 basketball season. The season tickets will not be honored during the county tournament in January or the OSSAA post-season playoff games.
“For $30, you will have a chance to see a lot of basketball games,” said Okmulgee Athletic Department secretary Diane Colbert. “This will get you into the elementary, junior high and high school games. It’s a great deal!”
Tickets can be purchased from the Okmulgee Athletic Department office at Okmulgee High School. For more information, contact Diane at 918-758-2075 Ext 3121.