By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Grove High School girls basketball coach Richard Bassett credited defense on Monday in keying a 7-2 start by the Ridgerunners.
“We’re sound on defense ... mostly a man-to-man,” Bassett said. “However, if necessary, we’ll use the zone ... anything to win.”
The Ridgerunners, ranked 13th among the 32 Class 5A teams in Oklahoma, are 2-2 in the revamped Verdigris Valley Conference North Division.
Grove, Miami, Jay, Oologah and Vinita belong to the North. Those teams will play each other two times. Grove, in creating a 10-game league schedule, will play Wagoner and Catoosa from the South Division a game apiece.
Bassett, who’s assisted by Jeremy Collins and Keni Iverson, said he “couldn’t be disappointed” with the overall start of the Ridgerunners.
“We’ve struggled scoring,” Bassett said. “We have to start shooting the ball better. We’re getting the good shots. We’re doing things right. The shots haven’t been falling. I don’t know what it is. I’m surprised we aren’t shooting the ball better.
“We did shoot it much better in the second half at Pryor on Friday night (a 53-36 victory for the Ridgerunners),” Bassett said. “Hopefully, the improvement will continue.”
Bassett anticipated fielding a competitive team with the return of four players with starting experience from an 18-8 edition that finished 11-3 in the VVC.
The foursome consists of 5-foot-5 senior Emily Cook, 5-7 senior Tyler Dodson, 5-9 junior Emilee Iverson and 5-10 junior Mason Jeffries.
Completing the current rotation of eight players are 5-4 senior Megan Freeman, 5-9 junior Justina Mouse, 5-8 sophomore Libby Morris and 5-4 sophomore Karah Bassett.
Jeffries, who’s averaging some 12 points, tallied 14 at Pryor. Morris added 12 points and nine rebounds in a reserve role. The bench finished with 29 points, according to Richard Stroud in the Grove Sun.
Jeffries is the leading scorer and rebounder (an estimated average of 10), Coach Bassett said, and point guard Cook is averaging four assists. Dodson and Jeffries are three-year starters.
Grove resumes tonight at 7:20 against Westville in the Bank of Locust Grove Invitational. Powerhouses Adair (Class 3A) and Ketchum (2A) also are in the field.
The Ridgerunners launched their season by winning the Muskogee Hilldale Tournament for the second year in a row. They won it by nudging Morris 44-41 in two overtimes. Morris is ranked in 3A, Bassett said.
Bassett, who’s in his fifth season as head coach, is in his seventh year overall at Grove. He’s a graduate of Afton High School (1986), Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Pittsburg State. He has a master’s degree from Southern Nazarene.