GOING SKYWARD: Owasso junior Josh Proctor drives to the basket during the Owasso vs. Bishop Kelley varsity basketball game.
KEVIN ADAMS for GTR Newspapers
Things were tough for Owasso when it started the season out of the gates.
Ranked 15th in Class 6A boys, the Rams dropped their first four games, including a 59-57 overtime loss at home to Bishop Kelley on Dec. 16. But the Rams (14-8 as of this writing) have come on strong since.
It won six straight after the 0-4 start, including a win against No. 7 Booker T. Washington in the championship game of the Skiatook Invitational in early January. As of mid-February, Owasso had won 14 of 18 games.
It avenged its Bishop Kelley loss with a convincing 54-41 win over the Comets Feb. 10 in a road encounter.
Experience, coach Mark Vancuren says, has made the difference.
“We’ve had quite a few games here, where we’ve been able to work on things and get better. We were better executing against the zone,” Vancuren says. “Earlier in the season, the zone is always something that gives teams trouble and with their zone, we didn’t execute well against it (referring to the Dec. 16 game against Kelley) and we weren’t as proficient as we are now. I thought we did a better job, obviously, than previously when we played them.”
The Rams have also improved at running the offense, Vancuren says. He also said the defense is playing better than it has before.
“I thought our zone was good against (Kelley),” he says. “We kind of limited some of the shots they got. We weren’t perfect or anything, but it did take time off the clock. It allowed our guys to get some rest they needed, and then we were able to go down on the offensive end and score.
“The clock was against them this time, and last time I think the clock was against us,” Vancuren says. “It was a good game.”
Vancuren also expressed praise for their foe after the game.
“There is nobody in our (Frontier) conference that plays harder than Bishop Kelley,” he says. “They are well-coached. They play extremely hard. They execute. It’s a good win. I think they’re going to make some noise in 5A when it comes to playoff time. I think they are really going to be able to do some things.”
Three juniors, Josh Proctor (6-3, guard), Jake Thompson (6-4, guard/forward), Courtre Alexander (6-4, forward) and two sophomores, Hayden Peterson (6-1, guard) and Seth Pomeroy (5-11, guard) make up the starting lineup for the Rams.
Pomeroy and Proctor led the Rams in the win against Kelley, with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
“We have overall athleticism from the wings,” Vancuren says. “We got good post-play, I love our offense and the things we are able to do. We’ve got other juniors who come off the bench in Jaxon Vancuren (5-11, guard, son of the coach). He plays well defensively, especially coming out of the zone, and Garrett Killion (6-2, guard) played well (against Kelley). He had a couple of buckets that we really needed.”
Tyler Mason (6-3, forward) is another sophomore who comes in and plays the post for the Rams.
“We got quite a few guys that are playing and are playing well,” Vancuren says.
Winning the Skiatook tournament against Booker T. Washington has been the best signature win for this season, Vancuren says.
The Rams followed up the Kelley win with another road challenge in Jenks, answering with a convincing 64-48 victory. They were slated to meet unbeaten and top-ranked Union at home on Feb. 17 to close out the regular season. Then comes the playoffs.
“It doesn’t get any easier, it is a tough conference, as well as a tough class,” Vancuren says.