Originally Published: Jan 6, 2010 4:48 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The coaches could use the pre-tournament solace.
Gathered at Johnnie’s on NW Expressway, a calm lunch with each other Wednesday to discuss tournament basics is a perfect opener to the Putnam City Invitational tournament.
Though Thursday, they’ll be trading hot food for heated competition and raised blood pressures in one of Oklahoma’s most competitive boys basketball tournaments.
According to OKRankings.com, four of the state’s top 10 Class 6A teams will meet in the tournament.
No. 10 Midwest City (5-2) will kick off the tournament versus No. 16 Lawton Ike (3-4). Defending 6A champion Putnam City plays Stillwater (2-5). Ultra-talented No. 3 Putnam City West (7-3) plays class 4A’s John Marshall (4-4) – the only representative of non-6A schools. Host school No. 11 Putnam City North (5-2) gets the late game against a banged-up No. 5 Tulsa Union (4-1) club.
“We got three of the top teams in the state walking through our doors,” said P.C. North head coach Rick Harris, organizer of the tournament for the first time. “The kids read the papers. They see who the best teams in the state are.”
So it’s no secret that the competition in the three-day event will be stiff, meaning Thursday’s first round games will be a taste of something new for younger players.
“We told them, ‘Boys, you’re getting ready to get into a storm over here. You don’t know what you’re getting ready to walk into.’ But, it’s going to be a great experience for them,” said Union head coach Rudy Garcia. “In case we have a chance to get into the state tournament, this is a perfect environment to get exposed to what they’ll see there.”
The hyped-up environment and faster play can lead to mistakes, but the coaches wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Any time you play a quality opponent, it reveals what your team is all about,” said Harris. “We’ve already seen two really good teams this year in Putnam West and Edmond Santa Fe. They’ve revealed some things in us and some weaknesses that we have to address. Hopefully we’ll get those things fixed and rectified before the playoffs because then you won’t have any second chances.”
“It’s good,” agreed P.C. West head coach Tim Stogsdill. “It’ll help you in the long run. It’s all about playing well in March. Anytime you can go out and play the best in the state, that’s definitely going to help you.”
None of the teams, however talented, enter the tournament spotless. Every team has a loss.
“We’ve all experienced a little frustration this year and a little adversity,” said Harris. “This tournament’s going to really create situations where the cream’s going to have to rise to the top.”
Putnam City Invitational - First Round Schedule
Thursday, January 7
Midwest City vs. Lawton Eisenhower, 2 p.m.
Putnam City vs. Stillwater, 3:30 p.m.
Putnam City West vs. John Marshall, 6 p.m.
Union vs. Putnam City North, 7:30 p.m.
Check out the Putnam City Invitational notebook for more tournament news.