Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The Amber-Pocasset High School girls basketball team has won the Grady County Basketball Tournament seven years in a row, and even though the Lady Panthers have a different coach this year, the expectations are the same.
Amber-Pocasset beat the Ninnekah Lady Owls 62-33 on Tuesday night in the first round of the 95th annual Grady County Tournament, giving Reimers a win in his first game in the tournament.
The Lady Panthers won the game the same way they won the tournament last season, and the same way they’ve won many games in years past. Am-Po pressured the Lady Owls constantly, forcing 18 first-half turnovers and putting the game away early.
Reimers knows what this tournament means to the county. While coaching at various schools around the state of the last 20-plus years, he had heard and read about the tournament that’s been held in Grady County since 1919.
“I’d always seen it in the paper,” Reimers said. “I’d been in the Comanche County tournament a lot of times while Grady was going on, and I knew and I’d heard rumor that the Grady County was just as prestigious and people flocked to it just as much as they did with the Comanche. So I knew from the Comanche County tournament that if this was anything like it, it was something special.”
It didn’t take long after Reimers got to Amber-Pocasset High School for him to hear about the expectations for his team in the Grady County Tournament, and the entire regular season.
“It’s been talked about, I’ll put it that way,” Reimers said about keeping the Grady County Tournament win streak going. “I know the importance. They did such a phenomenal job last year in the regular season, going undefeated. I knew we had some tall orders to begin with.”
The Lady Panthers only have one senior on the roster, Dontasia McAfee, but have nine juniors, so there are plenty of players on the team who have won the Grady County Tournament multiple times. Reimers saw the importance of the tournament through their excitement.
“When I got to Am-Po, these girls put it on their calendar,” Reimers said. “It even goes down to our junior high, our seventh- and eighth-graders.”
Amber-Pocasset will be favored in any game it plays in the tournament, and the players and coach are aware of that. But Reimers has also made sure they are aware of how quickly a team can go from being a favorite to being a loser.
The coach uses an example that would be familiar to most anyone interested in basketball in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma City Thunder.
“They hate hearing me bring up the Thunder,” Reimers said. “Here a while back, we were in a tournament in Hinton, and we were playing Hammon JV, and it happened to be the night after they played the Wizards, and they had four or five guys out. And I can remember listening to the radio, the Thunder was supposed to win it by a landslide. It wasn’t even supposed to be a competition because they were basically playing the bench for the Wizards. What happened? They got beat.
“We know more than anything, we know Dibble isn’t going to be the same team that they were when we went to their house just two weeks ago,” he said. “Because of the specialty of this tournament, they’re going to want to step up, and we’ve got to step up. The obstacle is going to be taking it one game at a time, and executing in our game that we need to play.”
Amber-Pocasset played Dibble on Jan. 8, and beat the Lady Demons 60-28.
Dibble is currently 11-6, and won in the first round of the Grady County Tournament by beating Verden on Monday, 47-25.
The Lady Panthers are scheduled to play the Dibble Lady Demons at 7 p.m. tonight in the semifinals of the Grady County Tournament at Minco.