It’s that time of year again sports fans. High School basketball playoffs begin around the state of Oklahoma next week across Class 6A and people are already starting to make their bets on who is going to be raising the gold ball in mid-March in Tulsa.
Most “experts” across the state are favoring Tulsa Union and why not? They are unbeaten this year and have a plethora of talent on their roster combined with the experience of winning state championships or at least competing for a state title nearly every season.
There are several Oklahoma high school basketball “gurus” out there who believe Edmond North has the pieces to compete with Union and at least make it difficult for the Redskins to cut down the nets and of course, with all of the Trae Young hype, there are even some who believe Norman North could sneak up on some people in Class 6A.
Well, I am here to remind all of you in Yukon, Canadian County and all across our great state that there is a group of young men who resides in Yukon, Okla. that might have something to say about who is going to be receiving 6A boys state championship rings this coming summer.
Your first reaction might be to call me a homer since I work for the Yukon Review, but hear me out before you lose your mind and put me on mute.
What does it take to win a state championship or at least make deep playoff push in high school basketball? It takes talent, it takes veteran leadership, it takes athletic guards on the perimeter, it takes a strong low-post presence and most importantly, it takes a team getting hot at the right time.
How do I know all of this? Well, I covered a 6A state championship team in Mustang several years ago when the Terry Long-led Broncos dominated the state and had an undefeated season in 2014-2015.
Are these Millers as good as that team? No, that team was one of the best teams in the history of Oklahoma high school basketball but does this YHS bunch have what it takes to have a memorable postseason?
If you look at my criteria I mentioned above, Yukon fits it pretty well. They have talent. They have veteran leadership, they have athletic guards, they have a strong low-post presence and they have the capability of getting hot.
As far as talent goes, how can you look at Cameron Martin, Vernon Turner, Jordan Williams, Karsten Berg and Daunte McGee and say this team doesn’t have talent? And you add in Ricky Jones and Cole Bailey and this team has the ability to do something special in the playoffs.
Martin is as talented of a big man as there is the in the state with his ability to stretch his game out to the perimeter and his silky-smooth game in the paint. He is a force to be reckoned with for any team in Class 6A. Turner and Williams are as athletic as it gets on the perimeter for the Millers. They can both jump out of the gym with their ridiculous leaping ability, they have tremendous quickness both on defense and with the ball in their hands and they can both shoot the rock from the outside.
Berg is a big key for the Millers this postseason with his ability to light up the scoreboard in flash. Berg is the team’s best perimeter shooter and he proved he can score in a hurry with 17 points all in the second half against Mustang last week in Yukon’s win over the Broncos. McGee is a guy who is going to do the dirty work for YHS in the paint. The senior plays basketball like a football player because well, that’s exactly what he is. McGee is going to UCO this coming fall to play linebacker for the Bronchos but right now, he’s making life miserable for opposing team’s post players.
Jones and Bailey are players who are going to have to play well for Yukon to have a chance to make a run in the postseason. Are they guys who are going to light up the stat sheet? No, but they can come in and spell the starters and make a few plays to help get the Millers over the hump in a tight game.
What do all these players have in common? The majority of them have them have played a lot of high school basketball for Yukon have that veteran experience it takes to make deep playoff run. For many of these young men, this is their last chance to do something in the postseason and they don’t want to let that opportunity go. I expect all of these players to be at their best for the next several weeks.
As far as having an athletic perimeter, as I mentioned above, Yukon has that with Turner, Williams, Berg and Jones. Turner and Williams understand that this is their last chance and if they can play the way they are capable of, there are not many back courts in Class 6A who can stop the dynamic duo.
Post play is a big component to a high school basketball team in a playoff push. It’s a lot like having a running back you can turn and hand the ball to and know he’s going to get you positive yardage every time. Yukon has the best big man in the state with Martin. The 6-foot-10 225-pound senior needs to be great for the Millers to achieve their goals in the postseason. If Martin plays to his capability, Yukon will be hard to beat because there isn’t a high school player in Oklahoma who can stop the YHS big man.
Now, all the Millers need to do is get hot as a team. They have the pieces to the puzzle but it takes more than just pieces to make a playoff run. If head coach Scott Raper and his staff can get this team playing to their capability going into next weekend’s regional, then those so-called “experts” better take a good look at Yukon in Class 6A.