Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The Amber-Pocasset High School girls basketball team has a new coach this season, and lost some key players from last year's state tournament team, but that hasn't slowed the Lady Panthers down yet.
The Am-Po girls were 12-3 going into Tuesday night's game against Alex High School, and just won their second tournament of the year, the Hinton Invitational. Amber-Pocasset also won the Velma-Alma Comet Classic in early December.
Most of the Lady Panthers' wins this season have been by double digits, and of the three losses, two of them came to No. 1 Okarche (A) and one of them came to No. 5 Dale (2A) in the third game of the season.
All this has taken place during an adjustment period for the program, which is now led by head coach Kirk Reimers, who took over after last season. Sam Belcher was the previous coach, and led Am-Po to the first round of the state tournament in 2011-12.
Reimers has had a long coaching career in the state of Oklahoma, most recently coaching baseball and boys basketball at Moss High School.
Reimers was at Moss for one year, and before that had coaching stints at Snyder (six years), Binger-Oney (three years), and Fletcher (nine years).
Reimers said he has been coaching for 24 years, and this is the first time he has coached a girls team since his third year, back when girls still played 6-on-6 basketball.
Amber-Pocasset presented a perfect opportunity for Reimers, who was looking to coach at a school where he could coach only one sport.
He and his wife recently adopted a son, and he was looking to have some more time during the school year to focus on his family.
"I needed to slow that part of my life down, instead of going the whole school year, like I've always done," Reimers said. "And I've enjoyed it. I really have."
Amber-Pocasset was a good job for basketball reasons as well. The Panthers have one of the top girls basketball programs in class 2A.
"For me, personally, coming into it, the expectations were high expectations, but unknown expectations," Reimers said. "Because I wasn't around them last year, I didn't know exactly what all that entailed, as far as what we had coming back."
Reimers said he was able to get a little preview of what his team was like before the school year started, and he saw that he had a good base of talent to work with.
"I was able to be with them a little bit this summer," Reimers said. "But you can't have any organized practices, so everything is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of thing.
"On the other hand, I was able to see what we had to work with, and it was very workable. We have a lot of talent."
Reimers said that the process of he and his players familiarizing themselves with each other hasn't been 100 percent smooth, but the process has been made easier by how coachable his players are.
"There's been some hit and miss, it's not all rosy," Reimers said. "It's one of those things, where they're trying to figure out how I am, as much as me trying to figure out how they are, with all the personalities."
Things have worked out well for Reimers and the Lady Panthers so far, and Reimers only expects his team to get better as the season progresses.
"I couldn't have been blessed with a better group to work with," Reimers said.