By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
The Quapaw High School girls basketball team appears headed for another splendid season.
The Wildcats, ranked 19th in Oklahoma Class 2A, beat visiting Oklahoma Union 59-28 on Dec. 21 to hike their record to 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the Lucky ‘7’ Conference.
A quality season was expected with Quapaw coach Rod Graves rich in seniors and juniors from a team that finished 20-5 overall and 12-0 in the Lucky ‘7.’
“We’re on the same page when we play,” Graves, who’s assisted by Larry Radford, said Saturday. “We kind of know each very well. Nearly all of the girls have played together since the sixth grade.
“We’ve spent a lot of time shooting the ball this season,” Graves said. “We’ve emphasized shooting in practices that we’ve tried to make more like games. We have an older, mature group so we can spend more time on shooting.
“We’re blessed with having several people who can score ... even off the bench,” Graves said. “We also have some capable 3-point shooters.”
Usual starters for the Wildcats are 5-foot-6 junior Shaekota Bass, 5-9 senior Sierra Burkybile, 5-4 senior Alexa Chapa, 5-7 junior Bridgette Kibel and 5-6 junior Kaitlin Lovell.
The 10-player varsity roster is completed by 5-6 senior Brianna Ball, 5-8 senior Cassie Judd, 5-4 junior Zayariah Sargent, 5-7 senior Jazmin Briley and 5-6 junior Brycee Huston.
Chapa, in 2011-12, shared the league most valuable player award with Wyandotte senior Alex Lyons. Lovell was the defensive MVP and Burkybile joined Chapa and Lovell on the all-conference team. Ball received all-star designation.
Quapaw resumes on Jan. 8 by entertaining Colcord in a showdown. First-year league member Colcord has been a nemesis, Graves said, and twice bested the Wildcats last season.
Tenth-ranked Colcord beat Quapaw 44-33 this season on Dec. 8 in the final of the Afton Coca-Cola Classic. Colcord, coached by Mark Sherrell, has lost only to No. 14 Ketchum 38-33.
“We didn’t shoot well against Colcord,” Graves said. “We were a little tight and too tentative. We weren’t relaxed. We hope that changes (on Jan. 8).
Quapaw jumped out to a 26-10 lead against Oklahoma Union. Jim Ellis, sports editor of the Miami News-Record, wrote that the win snapped an 11-game losing streak to David Lampton’s Cougars (6-4).
“David (Lampton), I’m pretty confident, has been coaching more than 20 years at Oklahoma Union,” Graves said. “He’s a good friend.”
Added Graves with a laugh: “He’s a fishing buddy. But he isn’t much of a fisherman.”
Graves, who’s in his 15th season with the Quapaw girls, will take them to the Ripley Tournament Jan. 10-12. The Wildcats will open against Class 3A Chandler at 1:40 p.m. the first day.
“Definitely, we’ll be facing strong competition,” Graves said. “We’re looking forward it.”
Graves said Quapaw has lost an assistant with the hiring of Paige Radford — Larry’s daughter — by Riverton High School to assist girls coach Will Mallatt. Paige is finishing her degree from Pittsburg State.
Graves, a 1980 graduate of Picher High School, played basketball for the Gorillas under Don Barr. He began coaching at Welch, helping Kenneth Sooter, and was at Afton, working under Randy Gardner, before moving to Quapaw. Graves said he appreciates the influence of the trio.