MATCHUP: Owasso at Bartlesville
LOCATION: Bruin Arena, Bartlesville High School
KICKOFF TIME: 6:00 PM (Girls), 7:30 PM (Boys)
RADIO: KYFM 100.1 FM (Grant Merrill, play-by-play)
TWITTER FEEDS: @grantmerrill, @owassoathletics
OWASSO – Coming off of a Class 6A girls state championship, the Owasso Lady Rams are set to take on what turned out to be their biggest nemesis last year. Under the leadership of former Owasso Coach Krista Binam, the Bartlesville Lady Bruins ended up 26-2 in the final tally, one of those wins being against Owasso. The Lady Rams didn’t forget that game however, as it was the catylist that started a seventeen game winning streak that led the team to bringing home a gold ball.
Now, nearly a year later, the Bruin program has undergone huge changes as Binam suddenly stepped down as head coach of the 6A powerhouse and took the same position at Metro Christian Academy in Tulsa. Bartlesville has since hired Donnie Martin, who took Pryor to the Class 5A state championship, and is only the eighth coach in the history of Lady Bruin basketball.
For the Lady Bruins, transfers and changes to the roster have left Bartlesville with two returning starters from last year.
Owasso is somewhat in the same boat, as Head Coach Matt Sweeney returns this year guiding a program that has undergone significant change. Shortly after the Lady Rams brought home the Class 6A crown, his main assistant coaches were lured away as Christie Wilson was named head coach of the Rejoice Christian Lady Eagles and took her colleague Paige Wadley with her as the varsity assistant.
Sweeney made some adjustments to his staff, bringing in new assistant coaches Caitlin Moore, Kristen Hamilton, and Morgan Stewart. The three will be on the bench in their new positions for the first time tonight.
Normal changes have affected the Lady Rams from a roster perspective as well, as the team graduated star players Mya Bhinhar, Terryn Milton, and Leiloni Culley who each have settled into NCAA Division One programs. Bhinhar is on the roster in Springfield as a Missouri State Lady Bear, while Milton joined the University of Texas-Arlington.
Culley’s new home follows another off-the-court storyline for the Lady Rams, as she is now playing for the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Lady Lions, who named former Tulsa Assistant Tari Cummings as their head coach following the opening created by the departure of Elena Levato, who is now an assistant at Mississippi State.
Cummings is the mother of former Lady Rams standout Tiya Douglas, who because of the job change was forced to transfer to Fort Smith Northside, which is a perennial state championship winner in Arkansas’ Class 7A.
Despite the changes, transfers, and departures, the Lady Rams will promote some familiar names who will see the floor tonight. Seniors Rylie Boone, Kianna Cunningham, and Nylia Finch are among the most prominent of those, with Boone having been named the Frontier Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Juniors Avery Vancuren, Mallory Hendrix, and Baylee Kosciolek also return to the floor after seeing significant playing time this year.
The changes have not been lost on the prognosticators, as the Lady Rams come into their season opener ranked nineteenth in the state, while Bartlesville is the fifth ranked team in Class 6A.
Rams locked and loaded with returning talent
Head Coach Brian Montonati and the Owasso Rams will return plenty of familiar names to the floor when they visit the Bartlesville Bruins later tonight. The team took the end of last season down to the final seconds when they lost a 55-53 heartbreaker to the Sand Springs Sandites in the Class 6A semi-finals March 3rd at Tulsa’s Memorial High School.
Armed with the hot shooting of 6’1 senior guard Hayden Peterson, and other familiar names like senior guard Seth Pomeroy and senior forward Grant Vanlandingham, the team is poised to do great things in the 2017-2018 season.
The last time these two teams met, Owasso handed the Bruins a 63-50 upset on the Rams’ home floor. Now, under the leadership of fifth year head coach Chris Stewart, they’ll return some familiar names as well.
As the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise pointed out this week, the Bruins could be looking for revenge as the Owasso Rams come into tonight’s game ranked fourteenth in the state, while Bartlesville did not crack the top twenty.
On the floor tonight, you’ll see the Bruins return starters like Tayo Dina and Jayden Oliver, who each had thirty point performances during multiple dates last year.
The girls’ game tips off at 6:30 PM, while the boys’ game will tip off at 8:00 PM. Rams voice and InsideOwasso.Com publisher Grant Merrill will have the play-by-play for both contests on 100.1 KYFM and online via InsideOwasso.Com and the Owasso Athletics smartphone app.