There are 14 surviving basketball teams still on the road to state from the Durant area. All but one of them will be in action this Thursday. Here is a peek at the matchups from Class 5A down to Class B.
5A BOYS DISTRICTS – Durant vs. Noble (6:30 p.m. Friday at Bishop Kelley High School, 3905 S. Hudson, Tulsa)
The Noble Bears are 11-12 and lost their final three regular season games. They split a pair of games against Chickasha, one of the few common foes they shared with Durant in 2012-13. As for the 7-16 Lions, they snapped a seven-game skid last week against Duncan. The Lions will need every bit of their speed, shooting touch and inside presence to survive to the Saturday district final.
5A GIRLS DISTRICTS – Durant at Tulsa East Central (8 p.m. Thursday, 12150 E. 11th St., Tulsa)
East Central (13-7) is ranked fourth among 5A girls teams, so the Lady Lions (3-18) will have their hands full on the road. But if they can get past the Lady Cardinals, un-ranked Grove or McAlester awaits them on Saturday. More good news: Powerhouses Shawnee and Deer Creek (both 21-1 this season) are in the west bracket and won’t be in Durant’s path until March.
3A BOYS REGIONAL SEMIFINAL – Kingston vs. Hugo (8 p.m. Thursday in Tishomingo)
The 17-7 Kingston team, fresh off a district title win over Davis, will now battle the Buffaloes (18-5). If Kingston gets solid play from the Hayes brothers, they could give Hugo a fit. But the Buffs are known for their smothering defense, so expect a low-scoring affair either way.
3A GIRLS REGIONAL CONSOLATION SEMIFINAL– Kingston at Tishomingo (1:30 p.m. Thursday)
Kingston girls have not won since Jan. 10, but they put up a brave front in a 41-39 district loss to Davis last week. The 18-6 Lady Indians will be a tough assignment, and Tish already owns a regular season win over Kingston.
2A BOYS REGIONAL CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS
Silo at Colbert (3 p.m. Thursday) – The Leopards host this pivotal elimination game after splitting their district games on the same court last week. They gave Calera (Bryan County Tournament finalists) more than they could handle with Preston Rice finding ways to score and Jared Nunley off the bench for big numbers. Silo will look to regroup from their district loss to Vanoss, and expect a big game from a rested Kendall Shives for the Rebels.
Tushka vs. Stratford (3 p.m. Thursday in Talihina) – The 14-6 Bulldogs should match up well with the Tigers (16-9). This is a must-win game and either team will have to win three straight in Talihina to reach the next level. If Lane Fortenberry’s perimeter shot is on, the Tigers will be up to the task.
2A GIRLS REGIONALS
Semifinals: Silo at Colbert (6:30 p.m. Thursday) – The Lady Leopards are clear favorites in this matchup. They trounced district opponent Haworth, while Silo barely escaped from Caddo by one point. Colbert also owns a 12-point regular season win over the Lady Rebels. However, this won’t be one of Colbert’s signature blowouts, especially if Hannah Bourne and Kenslie Stanley of Silo can keep Colbert’s Taylor Lyons off the boards.
Consolation Semifinals: Caddo vs. Haworth (1:30 p.m. Thursday at Colbert) – Lou Pilkilton, Shelby Dellinger and the Joines girls should have enough firepower to dismantle Haworth, even in the face of the Lady Lions’ domination of a tough Calera team last week. This is an elimination game, so which team can handle the pressure?
CLASS A BOYS AREA SEMIFINALS (Two of six teams from Bryan County Conference)
Boswell vs. Moss (3 p.m. Thursday at Southeast Expo Center, McAlester) – The Scorpions (23-5) had won 18 games in a row dating back to early December before their playoff loss to Wright City last week. Moss (20-9) can put up a lot of points, as evidenced in their 90-51 consolation win over Keota last week.
Achille vs. Stuart (8 p.m. Thursday at Southeast Expo Center, McAlester) – The Eagles are now 15-15, including an impressive 4-1 start through two playoff rounds. The versatile senior Austin Beene and freshman playmaker Bradley McKnight will have to stay focused to get past the 11th-ranked Hornets(21-7), who were cruising until a fateful meeting with Weleetka in last week’s regional finals.
AT STAKE: If both Boswell and Achille win Thursday, they will meet head-to-head Friday for a chance to go to the area championship on Saturday against either Wright City or Weleetka. Boswell owns a 90-55 win over the Eagles back on Feb. 1.
CLASS B BOYS AREA SEMIFINALS
Bennington vs. Whitesboro (8 p.m. Thursday in Kingston) – The Bears are 3-1 in the playoffs, having only been tripped up by Moyers in last week’s regional opening round. The Bulldogs are now 19-9 after a regional final loss to No. 2 Red Oak. Ryan Lott and Tad Holt, the potent Bennington tandem, will be rested and have the advantage of playing close to home.
Coleman vs. Varnum (3 p.m. Thursday in Chickasha) – These teams are evenly matched, at least on paper. Both are ranked in the top 15; Varnum is 21-8 while Coleman is 23-4 after a playoff-opening loss to Springer. Still, the Whippets will have to overcome Wildcat shooters Lucas Hamilton and Colton Stephens.