By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Brandon Rabel, although his role in basketball is much different, still is looking forward to the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Tournament in Miami.
“I always enjoyed it (as a player at Wyandotte),” Rabel said Wednesday. “It was nice to get away from the usual grind.”
Rabel now is in his first season as the head boys coach at Diamond.
The Wildcats, who won the Norse Division in 2012, seek the Blue Division championship this year. They open against Afton at 4:30 p.m. today in the Civic Center.
Rabel, then an assistant, watched the Wildcats ironically beat Wyandotte for the 2012 title.
“I played in the tournament four times (at Wyandotte),” Rabel said. “I don’t believe we won a championship.”
Class 3 Diamond, defending champion in the Spring River Valley Conference, has opened 13-3 overall this season. It’s won four games in a row since losing at Lamar on Jan. 7.
“They’re very patent. They really work for the shot they want,” Rabel said of facing David Markes’ Afton Eagles. “They like to play a zone on defense. We need to be patient ourselves.”
The rest of the first round in the Blue Division is Wyandotte vs. Chetopa at noon in the Miami Activity Center, Commerce vs. Tulsa Rogers at 1:30 p.m. in the NEO college gymnasium and Welch vs. West Fork (Ark.) at 3 in the NEO Student Activity Center.
Rabel appreciates the Wildcats’ scoring balance this season. He said that six different players have scored in double figures.
Rabel said that Ryan Jinks, a 6-foot-2 senior standout, has been slowed by a back injury.
“Ryan (who was hurt in the Lamar game) missed one game,” Rabel said. “He played sparingly in two or three other games. He still doesn’t have the explosiveness we’re used to seeing.
“We’re looking forward to the tournament,” Rabel, a 1998 Wyandotte graduate, said. “We’ll see a bunch of people we normally don’t see. The games give us chances to get better. That’s what we have to do.
“The players like the tournament especially when it results in them leaving school early. We’ll leave about an hour early on Thursday.
“That isn’t enough for them,” Rabel added with a laugh.