Colt Savage scores 30 as No. 20 Sandites fall 80-77 to No. 16 Owasso

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

No. 20 Sand Springs (7-10) visited No. 16 Owasso (10-7) Friday night in a Frontier Valley Conference showcase, and junior Colt Savage scored 30 points for the second time this season. Owasso got the win, however, 80-77. 

Owasso 80 CPHS 77

1Q All 13-13
2Q Owasso 26-19
3Q Sand Springs 20-18
4Q Sand Springs 25-23

Free Throws:
CPHS 18-of-25
Owasso 21-of-32
2PTs:
CPHS 19-of-32
Owasso 25-of-28
3PTs:
CPHS 7-of-15
Owasso 3-of-10
Fouls: CPHS 24, Owasso 21.

Scoring: (Sand Springs) Colt Savage 30, Keener 14, Cale Savage 11, Garbey 8, Price 7, Smith 4, Taber 2, Durkee 1. (Owasso) Proctor 29, Pomeroy 14, Alexander 13, Peterson 8, Killion 6, Thompson 6, VanCuren 2, Mason 2,. 

(Sand Springs only)
Offensive Rebounds: Colt Savage 2, Keener 1, Durkee 1, Smith 1.
Defensive Rebounds: Colt Savage 9, Keener 1, Cale Savage 1.
Assists: Taber 6, Garbey 1.
Steals: Taber 3, Keener 2, Colt Savage 1, Durkee 1.
Blocks: Keener 7.
Fouls: Taber 5, Price 5, Garbey 4, Keener 3, Colt Savage 3, Cale Savage 2, Durkee 1, Wash 1.

The two teams were perfectly matched in the first quarter. Kyle Keener drew first blood, followed by a layup from Courtre Alexander. Cale Savage was next to find the bucket, then Alexander made another layup and sank his foul shot. Josh Proctor snagged a steal and dunk and the Rams may have briefly thought they would pull away, but Sand Springs had other plans.

Cole Durkee hit a free throw, Keener hit three more, then Colt Savage nailed a three to make it 11-7.

Garrett Killion nailed a two, Jaxon VanCuren snagged a steal and sent it to Proctor for a dunk, then Seth Pomeroy laid up for the lead. Keener had the final word of the period, however, and tied things at 13-13.

Owasso came out jacked in the second period and hammered Sand Springs in the first half of the quarter. The Rams scored eleven straight points, capped by back-to-back transition layups from Killion, before Cale Savage hit a three to put Sand Springs back in the game. Owasso went right back to it though, with three-straight baskets for a 30-16 lead.

The Sandites found their feet from there, however, and worked their way closer and finished with four-straight free throws to end the half down 39-32.

Sand Springs won the third quarter 20-17, setting things up for one of the most intense fourth quarters of the season. Both teams lead four times in the quarter and the game was tied six times. Owasso came out on top, however, with six free throw in the final minute to take the lead and finish 80-77, despite a last second layup from Colt Savage.

Sand Springs will return to action next Tuesday at Jenks (3-10), then will host 5A No. 15 Bishop Kelley (6-8) next Friday. Owasso will travel to No. 13 Sapulpa (10-3) next Tuesday and will host No. 7 Muskogee (12-2) next Friday.

Sydney Pennington scores 22 as No. 3 Lady Sandites fall 61-57 to No. 9 Owasso

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The No. 3 ranked Charles Page High School girls basketball team (14-1) traveled to No. 9 Owasso (12-5) Friday night in a battle for the top spot in the Frontier Valley Conference, and the home team toppled the previously undefeated Lady Sandites 61-57 in a down-to-the-wire shootout.

Owasso 61 CPHS 57

1Q CPHS 18-11
2Q Owasso 17-8
3Q Owasso 14-12
4Q All 19-19

Scoring: (Sand Springs) Pennington 22, Regalado 11, Johnson 11, Kersgieter 8, McGee 5. (Owasso) Milton 29, Bhinhar 11, Williams 11, Culley 10.

Free Throws:
(Sand Springs) 13-of-17
(Owasso) 15-of-18
2PTs:
(Sand Springs) 17-of-30
(Owasso) 17-of-34
3PTs:
(Sand Springs) 3-of-16
(Owasso) 4-of-11
Fouls: (Sand Springs) 14 (Owasso) 14

(Sand Springs only)
Offensive Rebounds: Pennington 2, Regalado 2, Johnson 1, Kersgieter 1.
Defensive Rebounds: McGee 8, Pennington 4, Regalado 3, Taber 2, Johnson 1, Kersgieter 1.
Steals: Johnson 2, Kersgieter 2, Pennington 1, Regalado 1.
Assists: McGee 2, Kersgieter 2, Pennington 1.
Blocks: Regalado 1.
Fouls: McGee 4, Johnson 4, Kersgieter 3, Pennington 2, Regalado 1.

The Sandites were lacking starting junior Gloria Mutiri, sitting out with a sprained ankle, and it showed. The Ohio State University-committed volleyballer averages 10.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. The 6'1" center was replaced by 5'9" sophomore Isabella Regalado. Regalado pulled in 5 rebounds for the night, but her size left her with only one block, while Mutiri is notorious for spiking several throughout the night. 

Sand Springs rolled to an 18-11 first period lead with Sydney Pennington scoring 6 to lead all scorers.

The second period was an entirely different story, however, as the Rams came from behind for a 28-26 lead, guided by Terryn Milton with ten points. Sand Springs gave up three free throws to Milton early in the period and she didn't miss a shot. Owasso benefited from a pair of late turnovers for three-straight field goals from Milton, Mya Bhinhar, and Sierra Williams.

The Lady Sandites average a 24-17 halftime lead and hadn't trailed all season till that point.

Things didn't start out much better in the second half as Leiloni Culley scored the opening basket and built a 34-28 lead with a pair of free throws. It was back and forth from there, but Williams ended the period with a layup for a 42-38 advantage.

Kierra McGee hit a three point basket to start the final stanza. Bhinhar hit a pair from the charity stripe, Regalado did the same, then Pennington hit a layup for the 45-44 lead.

Culley took the lead right back, however, and the Rams wouldn't relinquish it till there was less than thirty seconds left. Pennington was a beast for the Lady Sandites in the fourth quarter with twelve points, the most scored by any player on either team in a single period. 

The last two minutes felt like a whole quarter. Milton hit a pair of ones to make it 57-53. Pennington added a pair of her own. The teams exchanged steals, then Owasso burned a timeout with 47 seconds left. A traveling call gave Sand Springs the ball. Destiny Johnson took the first shot, missed, Pennington rebounded, missed, rebounded again and sent it home to tie it up with 30 seconds remaining.

Then Johnson fouled Milton. The Lady Ram hit a pair with 22 seconds left, then Nylia Finch picked off a steal to seal the deal. Culley put the final points on the board and the Rams had toppled a giant.

Both teams are now 7-1 in conference standings.

The Lady Sandites will return to action next Tuesday at Jenks (5-10), then will host 5A No. 17 Bishop Kelley (5-9) that Friday. Owasso will travel to No. 19 Sapulpa (6-8) next Tuesday and will host Muskogee (6-8) next Friday.

Frontier Valley Conference Men's Basketball Standings, Week Nine

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The 2016-2017 season is well under way and the Frontier Valley Conference is as competitive as ever. Eight out of ten FVC teams are ranked within their divisions and the Union Redskins are currently the undefeated unanimous pick as the No. 1 team in the state. They are also the only remaining team undefeated in conference play. The FVC is currently ranked third out of the five 6A conferences in overall strength.

No. 1 Union (12-0, 6-0) holds the best defense in the whole state, allowing only 48 points per game, on average. They have the third-ranked offense in the conference and win by an average of 15.8 points. In the last two weeks they have topped Bishop Kelley 65-42, Owasso 62-39, and Muskogee 78-42. SMU-commit Ethan Chargois scored 22 against both Kelley and Muskogee, but sat out Owasso with a hand injury. In that game Mo Garcia stepped up to lead the team with 20 points. 

No. 9 Muskogee (8-2, 5-1) holds the second-best offense in the conference and the fourth-highest margin of victory. In the last two weeks they have topped Sand Springs 47-42 and Jenks 85-59, but were just hammered 78-42 by Union in what was expected to be a somewhat close match. Brooks Haddock has been the consistent top dog this season and posted 27 against Jenks, but could only muster a team-best 12 against the Redskins. Tyreece Berry has been back in action since the new year and led the team with 18 against Sand Springs. 

No. 13 Sapulpa (7-2, 4-1) has the top-rated offense in the conference, averaging more than 68 points per game. Both of their conference games this year have been close ones, 59-57 over Broken Arrow and 72-68 over Sand Springs. Keenan Balance led the Chieftains to a come-from-behind victory over their archrivals from Sand Springs with 23 points, closely followed by Keenan Balance with 21. Balance also posted a team-best 20 points against Broken Arrow.

No. 11 Broken Arrow (8-4, 4-2) holds the second-best offense in the conference, third in the state, allowing only 49.1 points per game for the third-best margin of victory in the FVC. The Tigers have had a tough start to 2017, falling 59-57 to Sapulpa and only topping Jenks 46-38 in a game that saw the entire starting line benched by a frustrated head coach. Make no mistake, the powerhouse program is still a solid contender for the conference title if they can over come Muskogee next week. 

No. 19 Bartlesville (6-5, 3-2) is middle of the pack both offensively and defensively, but has still managed to come out on top more often than not. The Bruins fell 76-68 to Bixby in triple overtime last week and had their game against Sapulpa canceled due to weather, but got back in the win column Tuesday with a 64-57 victory over Bishop Kelley. Barron Tanner has been the top dog in both of the last two games, scoring 23 against Bixby and 28 against Kelley. 

5A No. 14 Bishop Kelley (4-6, 2-4) has done a good job keeping up with the 6A public school competitors, but dropped both of their last two conference games. The Comets hold the fourth-best defense in the FVC, but fell 65-42 to Union and 64-57 to Bartlesville. Ryan Gendron posted 18 against Bartlesville, closely followed by Alex Woodruff with 17. 

No. 16 Owasso (7-5, 2-4) got off to a rough start with four straight losses to start the season, but have been making a solid comeback since the new year. After topping 5A No. 6 East Central (8-5) and No. 8 Booker T. Washington (9-3) to sweep the Skiatook Invitational, the Rams returned to conference play with a bang. They defeated Jenks 66-52 and Bixby 62-50, but fell 62-39 to Union. Jake Thompson posted 10 against both Jenks and Union, with 15 against Bixby. Josh Proctor led the team with 16 against Jenks and 13 against Bixby. Courtre led against Bixby with 17 and also had 12 against Jenks. 

Bixby (5-7, 2-4) won a 76-68 triple-overtime shootout with Bartlesville, but fell 76-71 to Sand Springs and 62-50 to Owasso. Will Fiser scored 17 against Bartlesville, 22 against Sand Springs, and 11 against Owasso. 

No. 18 Sand Springs (6-6, 1-5) notched their first conference win with a 76-71 performance against Bixby, but fell 47-42 to Muskogee and 72-68 to Sapulpa after leading for most of the game. The Sandites have the fourth-best offense and third-best defense in the conference. Colt Savage posted 20 against Muskogee and Sapulpa and 34 against Bixby. Jacob Garbey had 21 against Bixby and Kyle Keener had 21 against Sapulpa. 

Jenks (1-9, 0-6) is still looking for their first conference win, despite a 21-point performance from Cole Surrett against Owasso and a 17-point performance from Eli Harris against Broken Arrow. The Trojans fell 66-52 to Owasso, 85-59 to Muskogee, and 46-38 to Broken Arrow. 

Conference Strength:

  1. Big Ten (51.5)
  2. Central Oklahoma (48)
  3. Frontier Valley (45.4)
  4. Green Country (43.1)
  5. All-City 32.09

FVC Leading Scorers (points-per-game)

  1. Colt Savage (Sand Springs) 21.2
  2. Brooks Haddock (Muskogee) 20.7
  3. Keenan Balance (Sapulpa) 19.9
  4. Eli Harris (Jenks) 19.7
  5. Caleb Huffman (Broken Arrow) 18.9
  6. Julian Smith (Sapulpa) 17.1
  7. Ethan Chargois (Union) 17.1
  8. Kyle Keener (Sand Springs) 16.6
  9. TyReece Berry (Muskogee) 16.3
  10. Josh Proctor (Owasso) 15.8

January conference schedule:
1/24 Union @ Sand Springs
1/24 Bartlesville @ Muskogee
1/24 Broken Arrow @ Owasso
1/24 Bixby @ Sapulpa
1/24 Bishop Kelley @ Jenks
1/27 Sapulpa @ Union
1/27 Muskogee @ Broken Arrow
1/27 Sand Springs @ Owasso
1/27 Jenks @ Bartlesville
1/27 Bishop Kelley @ Bixby
1/31 Bixby @ Union
1/31 Muskogee @ Bishop Kelley
1/31 Broken Arrow @ Bartlesville
1/31 Owasso @ Sapulpa
1/31 Sand Springs @ Jenks
 

Frontier Valley Conference Womens' Basketball Standings

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The 2016-2017 womens' basketball season is under way and the Frontier Valley Conference is as competitive as ever with seven out of ten teams being ranked in their divisions. Three of the FVC girls teams are in the top-ten of 6A and the Lady Sandites are leading the way with an undefeated record. 

The FVC is currently ranked second out of the five 6A conferences in strength of schedule, but with several cross-conference match-ups approaching in the next few weeks, they could slip ahead to first place. 

No. 3 Sand Springs (6-0, 3-0) is the only undefeated team remaining in the conference and they're one of only four teams to receive a first-place vote in the 6A rankings. The Lady Sandites have the best offense, best defense, and highest margin of victory in the conference. In addition to winning the Bishop Kelley Tournament, they also defeated Bartlesville 51-34, Bishop Kelley 71-36, and Broken Arrow 66-45. Five different players have led in scoring this season and three are averaging in double digits, led by Sydney Pennington with 13.5 points per game. They return to action after the new year when they compete at the Muskogee Bedouin Shrine Tournament.

No. 9 Bartlesville (3-3, 2-1) holds the No. 6 offense, No. 3 defense, and No. 4 margin of victory in the conference. They lost their season opener 51-34 to Sand Springs, but beat Owasso 52-39 and Union 42-33. Owasso got payback, however, with a non-conference 39-33 win at the Bixby Tournament. Jena Williams has led in scoring for the last five games and is averaging 12.8 points. The Lady Bruins return to action after the new year when they play No. 18 Mustang (3-2) at the Skiatook Tournament.

No. 8 Owasso (4-2, 2-1) holds the No. 7 offense, No. 4 defense, and No. 5 margin of victory in the conference. They lost their season opener 52-39 to Bartlesville, but defeated Muskogee 49-39 and Bishop Kelley 48-32. They also got payback on the Lady Bruins with a 39-33 non-conference win at the Bixby Tournament. The Lady Rams have two players averaging in the double digits, with Terryn Milton leading the team with 13.3 points per game. They will return to action on the 28th at the prestigious Tournament of Champions with a first round game against 3A No. 1 Adair (6-0). 

No. 14 Union (4-2, 2-1) holds the No. 4 offense, No. 2 defense, and No. 2 margin of victory in the conference. They lost their season opener 42-33 to Bartlesville, but have won their last four games, including a 61-34 victory at Jenks and a 41-36 win over Broken Arrow. The Lady Redskins are led by Taylor Malham with 13.7 points per game. They will return to action after the new year when they take on unranked Putnam City North (3-4) in the first round of the Putnam City Invitational.

No. 15 Sapulpa (2-1, 2-1) holds the No. 2 offense, No. 8 defense, and No. 3 margin of victory in the conference. They defeated Jenks 56-45 and Muskogee 53-51, but fell 51-44 to Bishop Kelley. They are led by freshman Ray Osborn with 12.7 points per game and will return to action at the Sapulpa Holiday Classic when they take on No. 12 Midwest City (5-2) in the first round.

No. 16 Broken Arrow (2-2, 2-2) holds the No. 9 offense, No. 5 defense, and No. 8 margin of victory in the conference. They defeated Bishop Kelley 43-37 and Bixby 36-31, but fell 66-45 to Sand Springs and 41-36 to Union. They are led by Jalise Smallwood with 17.8 points per game and will return to action in the first round of the Sapulpa Holiday Classic when they take on undefeated No. 6 Booker T. Washington (6-0).

Muskogee (2-4, 1-2) holds the No. 3 offense, No. 9 defense, and No. 6 margin of victory in the conference. They defeated Bixby 51-40, but fell 49-39 to Owasso and 53-51 to Sapulpa. They are led by Trena Mims with 21.4 points per game. They will return to action at the Bedouin Shrine Classic when they take on 3A unranked Okmulgee (2-2).

Jenks (2-4, 1-2) holds the No. 5 offense, No. 10 defense, and No. 10 margin of victory in the conference. They lost their season opener 56-45 to Sapulpa, then fell 61-34 to Union before registering a 57-49 win over Bixby. The Lady Trojans are led by Makenley Church with 9.7 points per game and will return to action at the Bedouin Shrine Classic against Ponca City (4-2). 

5A No. 15 Bishop Kelley (3-4, 1-3) holds the No. 10 offense, No. 7 defense, and No. 9 margin of victory in the conference. They lost their first two games 43-37 to Broken Arrow and 71-36 to Sand Springs, then won three-straight including a 51-44 victory over Sapulpa before falling 48-32 to Owasso. The Lady Comets are led by Macy Craig with 9.7 points per game and will return to action after the new year when they travel to Union. 

Bixby (2-4, 0-3) holds the No. 8 offense, No. 6 defense, and No. 7 margin of victory in the conference. They have yet to secure a conference win this season after falling 36-31 to Broken Arrow, 51-40 to Muskogee, and 57-49 to Jenks. The Lady Spartans are led by Maddie Bittle with 17 points per game.

Conference Strength:

  1. Central Oklahoma (50)
  2. Frontier Valley (45.5)
  3. Big Ten (38.7)
  4. Green Country (26.5)
  5. All-City (9.4)

FVC Leading Scorers (points-per-game)

  1. Trena Mims (Muskogee) 21.4
  2. Jalise Smallwood (Broken Arrow) 17.8
  3. Maddie Bittle (Bixby) 17.0
  4. Taylor Malham (Union) 13.7
  5. Sydney Pennington (Sand Springs) 13.5
  6. Terryn Milton (Owasso) 13.3
  7. Jena Williams (Bartlesville) 12.8
  8. Ray Osborn (Sapulpa) 12.7
  9. Hailey Morrison (Sapulpa) 12.0
  10. Sadie Moyer (Union) 11.0

Editor's Note: We are currently missing individual scoring results for several games. Please forward results to SanditePrideNews@gmail.com

Missing:

  • 12/6 Muskogee vs Owasso
  • 12/8 Muskogee vs NOAH
  • 12/8 Jenks vs Edmond Santa Fe
  • 12/8 Union vs Anadarko
  • 12/9 Union vs Putnam North
  • 12/9 Muskogee vs Tahlequah
  • 12/9 Jenks vs Edmond North
  • 12/10 Union vs Edmond North
  • 12/10 Jenks vs Putnam North
  • 12/10 Muskogee vs Yukon
  • 12/13 Bixby vs Muskogee

Frontier Valley Conference Mens' Basketball standings

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The 2016-2017 High School basketball season is well under way, and is shaping up to be a good one for the Frontier Valley Conference. Seven out of ten FVC teams are ranked within their divisions. Union and Muskogee currently lead the pack with each being undefeated both within the conference and overall. 

The FVC is currently fourth out of the five 6A conferences in strength of schedule, but the season is still young and they could easily move up a few spots as the season progresses. 

No. 3 Union (3-0, 3-0) holds the best defense in the conference, allowing only 47 points-per-game on average. They have the fourth-best offense and the second-best margin of victory. They started their season with a 50-46 victory over Bartlesville, smoked Jenks 66-40, then topped Broken Arrow 60-56. 6'7" Southern Methodist University committed senior Ethan Chargois leads the Redskins with 15 points per game, including a season-high 23 against Jenks.

No. 11 Muskogee (6-0, 3-0) leads the conference in offense, averaging 69 points per game, and is seventh in defense, allowing 56 for the best margin of victory in the FVC. They edged out Owasso 65-64 in overtime during their season opener, topped Bixby 65-63, and beat Sapulpa 58-50. 6'2" junior Brooks Haddock has led the team in the last five games, averaging 20.3 points. TyReece Berry scored 25 in the season opener but has been out of commission since then. Berry is expected to return after the new year, setting up the Roughers for one of the top offenses in the division.

No. 10 Broken Arrow (5-2, 3-1) holds the No. 5 offense, No. 2 defense, and No. 4 margin of victory in the conference. They edged out Bishop Kelley 44-41, topped Bixby 53-35, and came from behind to beat Sand Springs 55-54. In their last game they narrowly fell 60-56 to the Redskins. 6'2" point guard Caleb Huffman has led the Tigers in six out of seven games this season with an average score of 21. 

No. 13 Sapulpa (4-2, 2-1) holds the No. 2 offense, No. 9 defense, and No. 5 margin of victory in the conference. They topped Jenks 78-70 in the highest-scoring conference game of the year, then beat Bishop Kelley 60-50 before falling 58-50 to Muskogee. Three Chieftains are averaging in double digits, led by Keenan Ballance with 19 points per game.

No. 17 Bartlesville (3-3, 2-1) is ninth in offense, fifth in defense, and sixth in margin of victory. They topped Sand Springs 53-39 and Owasso 47-42 before falling 50-46 to Union. Four different players have led the team and two are averaging in the double. AJ Archambo leads the team with 13 points per game.

5A No. 16 Bishop Kelley (4-3, 2-2) is eighth in the conference in offense, fifth in defense, and seventh in margin of victory. They lost their season opener 44-41 to Broken Arrow, defeated Sand Springs 45-42, fell 60-50 to Sapulpa, and edged out Owasso 59-57. Three Comets have led the team in scoring and two are averaging double digits. Ryan Gendron leads the team with 15 points per game.

No. 18 Bixby (3-3, 1-2) is seventh in offense, sixth in defense, and eighth in margin of victory. They defeated Jenks 49-36, but fell 53-35 to Broken Arrow and 65-63 to Muskogee. The Spartans are led by Joey Homan with 16 points per game.

Sand Springs (3-3, 0-3) is third in offense, second in defense, and third in margin of victory. They have yet to secure a conference win, falling 53-39 to Bartlesville, 45-42 to Bishop Kelley, and 55-54 to Broken Arrow. They led the Tigers though the entire fourth before a late turnover gave BA the win. Junior Colt Savage has led his team in five of six games this season and averages 21 points per game.

Owasso (0-3, 0-3) is sixth in offense, eighth in defense, and is still looking for their first win this season. They fell 47-42 to Bartlesville, 65-64 to Muskogee, and 59-57 to Bishop Kelley. They're led by Josh Proctor with 17 points per game, including 27 against Muskogee. 

Jenks (0-7, 0-3) is ninth in offense, tenth in defense, and is still looking for a win. They fell 78-70 to Sapulpa, 66-40 to Union, and 49-36 to Bixby. 

Conference Strength:

  1. Central Oklahoma (51)
  2. Big Ten (49.7)
  3. Green Country (48)
  4. Frontier Valley (40.8)
  5. All-City (32.5)

FVC Leading Scorers (points-per-game):

  1. TyReece Berry (Muskogee) 25.0
  2. Caleb Huffman (Broken Arrow) 21.1
  3. Colt Savage (Sand Springs) 21.0
  4. Brooks Haddock (Muskogee) 20.3
  5. Keenan Ballance (Sapulpa) 19.6
  6. Josh Proctor (Owasso) 17.7
  7. Julian Smith (Sapulpa) 17.0
  8. Joey Homan (Bixby) 16.3
  9. Ryan Gendron (Bishop Kelley) 15.9
  10. Kyle Keener (Sand Springs) 15.5

Editor's Note: We are currently missing individual scoring results for several games. Please forward results to SanditePrideNews@gmail.com.

Missing:

  • 12/6 Jenks vs Sapulpa
  • 12/8 Jenks vs Edmond North
  • 12/9 Jenks vs Edmond Memorial
  • 12/9 Muskogee vs Enid
  • 12/10 Jenks vs Casady
  • 12/10 Bixby vs East Central
  • 12/13 Jenks vs Union
  • 12/16 Bixby vs Jenks

Editorial: How the 6A split saved 6A football

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Oklahoma high school football experienced a dramatic and controversial change in the fall of 2013 when the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) announced a split in Class 6A. The 16 highest-enrollment schools would be separated from the lower 16 and each division would play for their own State Title.

The reason for the decision was simple. Population. The current enrollment of Broken Arrow High School is 4,872. The enrollment of Booker T Washington? 1,317. The difference between the top of 6A and the bottom of 6A is greater than the top of 5A and the smallest schools in the State. Schools like BA, Union, Jenks, and Owasso have four times the talent pool to draw from. While the majority of the Hornet starters play both sides of the ball and never get a break, the Redskins have a roster larger than some colleges and have backups for their backups.

Class 6A was created in 1992 and the inaugural Championship was won by Norman. Jenks won it in ’93, Midwest City went back-to-back from ’94-95, and nobody but Jenks or Union has won it since. More often than not, the State Championship game has simply been a rematch between the Backyard Bowl rivals. Since the inception of 6A, Jenks leads the series with 14 titles to Union’s 7, and only 2 other teams have ever won.

Clearly population isn’t the only deciding factor, otherwise Broken Arrow would have won it every year. But there’s no denying the significance it plays. 6A teams were judged by their ability to turn a winning record, not by their ability to win State Titles. That was irrelevant. Nobody won State Titles but Jenks and Union.

In the 22 seasons that Sand Springs played the 6A division, they earned a total record of 98-131 and only managed 7 winning seasons with 7 playoff appearances. In five of those years they were eliminated by top-four-enrollment schools. The other years it was by top-ten schools. Since the 6A split, the Sandites have gone 15-11, made the playoffs both years, and actually won playoff games for the first time since 1997. In 2015, the Sandites made their first State Final appearance since 1966.

While the problems with the 6A split were clear—increased travel, “easier” brackets—the solution has proved to be a game-changer for the 16 schools who now feel like they actually have a legitimate chance. The culture around Sand Springs football has changed, and it’s not an isolated event.

The Class 6A-II conversation begins with two-time reigning State Champions, the Bixby Spartans. Bixby was an annual contender in Class 5A without fail. They weren’t part of the inaugural class of 6A. They didn’t move over until 2010. Prior to that, they had six-straight winning seasons with ten-straight playoff appearances. In their first year of 6A they finished the regular season 5-5, their worst record since 2003, and were eliminated in round one by Jenks. For the next two years they posted losing records and didn’t make the playoffs again till the 6A split. In a single year, the 6A powerhouses had killed the football culture at Bixby. They were lucky that they only had to live through it for four years before the split. In 2014, the Spartans were once again playing teams at their size, and they went 12-1 for their first ever State Title. Their only loss? A season-opening non-conference game against Jenks. Jenks won that one 66-20. The Spartans defended their title in 2015 and are currently ranked number one in 2016. After two straight winning seasons and State Titles, the Spartans challenged Jenks in their season opener and nearly won it, 38-34.

Booker T Washington has always had a culture of winning, with eight State Championships including two recently in 2008 and 2010 at the 5A level. The Hornets only had to play two seasons of 6A football, both ending in first round devastating playoff defeats at the hands of the Big Four. As soon as 6A split, they were back in it with a 7-game winning streak and a 10-2 season in 2014. Last year they went undefeated in the regular season and earned the number one rank before Sand Springs defeated them in the semi-finals. This year the Hornets are laying the foundation to take their program to the next level with College Hall of Fame member Brad Calip taking over as Head Coach and former University of Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship volunteering with the quarterbacks and offensive coaching. The Hornets have stepped up their pre-conference scheduling with 6A No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe and Florida-based private school IMG Academy which is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation with an entire roster of division-I commits.

Bartlesville was part of the first class of 6A, and went 0-10 in the first two years. They didn’t post a winning record till 2002, when they were doubled down on by Union 54-27 in the first round of the playoffs. Their next winning record wouldn’t come till 2008, and that was only due to a forfeiture by Jenks due to OSSAA sanctions. In 2009 they gave it a real run and even defeated Owasso, but still couldn’t fend off Jenks, BA, and Southmoore. In 2010 they had another winning record at 7-4. Their losses were to the Big Four. Since the 6A split they’ve made the playoffs both years and finished last season with only two losses. They held the No. 1 rank briefly after defeating Bixby, before falling to BTW two weeks later.

The success stories continue from there. The evidence is undeniable, the 6A split has saved 6A football. While critics of the sixteen-team bracket call it a JV division, the reality is that the top teams in 6A-II never could compete with the Big Four when they were in 6A, but now they could. Bixby nearly defeated 6A No. 1 Jenks in a pre-conference battle. BTW almost defeated 6A No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe. Sand Springs has begun scheduling real opponents like Arkansas State Champion Pulaski Academy, instead of their past habit of lighting up Nathan Hale, who has lost 37-straight games. Muskogee has brought in 5A State Championship coach Rafe Watkins from Guthrie and is now a real contender for the first time in years. Putnam City West is confidently rebuilding their program after a decade of losing seasons. Sapulpa brought on former Sand Springs Defensive Coordinator Robert Borgstadt as head coach to rebuild their ailing program.

Success breeds success. Is the 16-team bracket the best way to go? Who knows? Maybe one day there will be a full 32 schools the size of BA and we can re-institute the 32-team standard. Maybe we should split all the other classes into 16-team divisions as well. Or maybe we should call Bixby and Jenks Division Champions instead of State Champions and have them play each other for the true 6A State Championship. There’s many things we could try; some could work, and some won’t. But the fact is, 6A football is more competitive than it has ever been, and almost every school in the Class is now vying to be the next big deal. The Big Four monopoly hasn’t been broken, but at least 16 teams now feel like they have a real shot.

Lady Sandite Volleyball knocks off No. 10 Union in beautiful upset

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The No. 10 ranked Union Redskins (5-5) probably expected little competition from the No. 17 Sand Springs Lady Sandites (13-9). Union’s only losses before their journey to Sand Springs were to top-ten teams. Unfortunately for them, the Sandites’ ranking is misleading.

The Charles Page High School varsity volleyball team had recently gone 2-4 at the Broken Arrow Invitational, but that record doesn’t show that they were one of only two teams there to win even a single set against No. 2 Norman North (12-2). It also doesn’t show that six of the ten games they lost were by five points or less.   

The Redskins got off to a fast start on the Sandites in the first set before giving up three points on errors. Madison Burris and Gloria Mutiri combined on a block to tie things up at 4-4 and Mutiri scored a kill for the lead.

Union went on a five-point run from there, but the Sandites won eight-straight rallies to reclaim the advantage. Mutiri and Holly Kersgieter each scored several kills off Burris and Lee Leslie, and Madison Ward scored the first ace of the game.

The Sandites were up 16-11 when Union went on another streak. Kendall Cotter scored a pair of aces, Gabbie Inman and Paris Hornor both registered kills, and the Redskins took the 19-16 lead before freshman Devree Youngblood broke the streak with a spike off Burris. Union continued to outscore Sand Springs till a 24-19 score looked like they had it all wrapped up.

The Sandites had other plans.

Mutiri scored off Kenzie Bradshaw, Kylie Taylor served an ace, Ashley Barrows gave up a point on an error, and MaKenzie Ward set up Mutiri to narrow the score to 24-23. Barrows scored a kill to win the set for Union, but the Sandites had shown they were here to play.

The second set was far closer and neither team allowed the other to go on a run this time. The longest scoring-streak either team managed was four rallies. The game was tied up six different times, but the Sandites led six different times and only allowed the Redskins to lead once.

Union tied things up at 15-15 with a kill from Chloe Click, then took the lead on a pair of errors. They held the advantage for only five rallies before giving it up on an error at 18-18 and never recovered. Mutiri took the lead at 20-19 off a set from MaKenzie Ward, Kersgieter served an ace, then scored again after a Union time out. The final minutes were back-and-forth on scoring, but Sand Springs never relinquished the lead and ultimately won 25-23 on a kill from Mutiri.

The third game belonged explosively to the Sandites. After giving up the first three rallies to Union on errors, the Sandites tied things up at 4-4 and took the lead with back-to-back aces from Burris. Union never tied it and never even got close to leading again.

The Sandites scored seven aces in the third game: two from Burris, two from Kersgieter, two from Kendall Wise, and one from Mutiri. The host team had doubled down on their visitors 22-10 midway through the game. The Redskins tried to rally, but they were too far in the deficit and Sand Springs won 25-17.

The visitors found their feet in the fourth game and led for most of it. Sand Springs battled heavy in the last minutes and got within a few points, but Union prevailed 25-22 to force a fifth set.

The final game started off a tad rocky for the Sandites with some communication errors and campfires, but after tying it up at 5-5 with a kill from Mutiri, the Sandites took the lead and never looked back. Kersgieter scored the go-ahead point, Mutiri and Leslie combined on a block, Hornor committed an error, Mutiri added another kill, and Mutiri and Leslie combined on yet another block for the 10-5 lead.

The next five points were decided by errors and the Redskins closed the gap to 12-9 with a tipped ball from Inman. Kersgieter almost saved a shanked dig that went OB, but the ball caught the antenna for the point. Morgan Livingston hit an ace, and the Redskins threatened at 12-11.

Union got into the net on the next rally and Wise served an ace to make it 14-11. A four-touch call gave Union a point, but MaKenzie Ward set up Youngblood for the game-winner.

Mutiri led the Sandites in scoring with twenty-nine kills, five blocks, and two aces, followed by Kersgieter with a season-best fourteen kills, two assists, and four aces. Youngblood was next in on the action with a season-best ten kills, and Wise also scored a season-best with five kills and four aces. Burris had her best night of the season with nineteen assists, followed by MaKenzie Ward with eighteen.

The Lady Sandites will get a full week off after playing twenty matches in twenty-one days. They’ll return to action next Tuesday in an away match at Owasso. Owasso is ranked fifth in 6A with a 4-0 record. Freshmen begin play at 4:00 p.m., Junior Varsity is at 5:00 p.m. and Varsity is at 6:00 p.m.