Excitement precedes basketball season
By Kyle Salomon
Excitement is starting to fill the air as high school basketball season is upon us in Oklahoma, and the Mustang boys squad is a contender this season to bring home the gold.
The Bronco boys basketball team returns six players from last year’s squad who started at least one game and played significant minutes for Mustang on the hardwood.
Mustang head basketball coach Terry Long is entering his second season as the face of the program. Last year, the Broncos were a surprise to everybody around the state, but saw their solid season come to an abrupt halt at the hands of Bixby in the first round of regionals.
New pieces to the puzzle to mix in with the returning talent on the roster makes this team not only a contender, but dangerous to other good teams throughout the state, which also have their eyes set on the gold ball.
Long said preseason practice has been a roller-coaster throughout much of the fall.
“It has been up and down for the most part,” he said. “We will look outstanding sometimes, but then other times we will be sloppy. I want to see more consistency in how we work every day. I love practice and I love working hard, so that is what we need to do as a team.”
With the football team falling in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, Long got his football players who also play basketball back on the court before Thanksgiving.
Long said those players will help with more consistency in practice, but they need to get in shape in a hurry.
“Being in football shape and being in basketball shape are two different things,” he said. “We have to get those guys used to running in a gym again, and that will take a little bit of time. We can’t be as good as we can be unless we are all in great shape.”
Sophomores Jakolby Long, Dearyus Colbert, Eric Lucas, Bryce Roberts and Xavier Whitehead all came over to the hardwood once football was over. Sophomore Chandler Garrett will join the team once he heals from a knee injury he suffered late in the football season.
Lucas, Isaiah Hammons, Colbert and Demarion Love will all be newcomers on the basketball squad this season. One player who they thought would be able to play this year was Curtis Haywood, but the OSSAA ruled him ineligible to compete in varsity athletics this academic school year.
When it comes to the team’s strengths this season, Long said he believes this squad has many.
“I look at my team and I really don’t see a need in any area,” he said. “I truly believe we have every piece of the puzzle it takes to win a state championship. We have really good size and athleticism on the perimeter and we can do a lot of different things inside.”
Finding a weakness in this team may be difficult, but Long said it is there.
“I wish we had a little more size inside,” he said. “Austin Meyer (sophomore) and Geoff Hightower (junior) are playing really well down there right now for us, but we have some versatile guys like Eric Lucas and Jakolby (Long) who can even play down there if we need it.”
Long said he believes every player on his team can be a leader, but he would like one guy to stand out and take over.
“I want Jakolby to be more vocal this year for us,” he said. “Last year he was a freshman, so he has a year under his belt now. He needs to be a leader for us. Geoff (Hightower) has been a great leader for us throughout practice. He gets everybody in the right spots and ready to go every day.”
Mustang opened the regular season officially on Tuesday night at Choctaw. The Broncos travel to Oklahoma City Millwood to compete in the Millwood Tournament tonight, Friday and Saturday.
Those results will be in the Dec. 12 Mustang News.