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Midtown Monitor


BTW Girls Hope for Title with New Coach

By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer

POSTSEASON HOPES: Booker T. Washington girls are aiming for great things in the postseason with a new coach at the helm.



This year is just like any other for Booker T. Washington girls’ basketball. The Lady Hornets are winning, carrying a 7-4 record (as of Jan. 11) and rank fifth in Class 5A. But the thing that is different is a new coach calling the shots.

Rabu Leyva is now the head coach for the BTW girls after taking over the reins from Annette Kennedy who stepped down after last season.

Kennedy coached the program to three state titles and 12 state tournament appearances in 19 seasons.

A native Texan who graduated from Oral Roberts in 1999, Leyva had previously been at Memorial, where he led the Lady Chargers to two state appearances during a seven-year tenure.

The biggest factor that drew Leyva to the job was “the commitment from the players, the administration, the entire school of excellence,” he says. “It’s really unmatched. As a coach, you’re always excited to be a part of that. I’ve known Coach Kennedy since I’ve been teaching and coaching at (Tulsa Public Schools). I know she had laid a foundation of hard work and excellence and it is something I can build upon.”

The adjustment has been easy, Leyva says, because teaching and coaching have a lot of similarities.

“I tell people all the time, ‘We get paid to teach. It’s a privilege to coach,’” he says.
“It’s the same principle of holding kids accountable, setting high standards and caring about them. I think that translates no matter where you are coaching or teaching at. So, I just try to be myself, and the girls are very receptive. They’ve already had a level of high expectations, so it’s been a very good fit.”

Leyva was amazed the first time he saw the school spirit of Tulsa BTW. He attended a high school with the same name. “I would say that Booker T’s school pride is second to none,” he says. “I come to the first pep rally and nobody is sitting down. They’re all up, singing the songs and doing the dances; I was kind of blown away to be honest. Until you experience one of the pep rallies first hand, I don’t know if you can fully understand the pride the students, the faculty and the alumni feel about Booker T. Washington. So, that part has been fun to experience.”

The Lady Hornets have had to battle some injuries at the start of the year, but everyone is back at full force.

Key players have been Khalan Richardson, Camryn Fennell and Rhys Anderson, all starters from last year.

“Their talent level is very high,” Leyva says. “Those three ladies understand basketball, so it makes my job so much easier. In my mindset, I don’t want to raise robots, I want to raise basketball players that are communicating together, talking about what’s going on the floor and discussing it. Those girls have the ability to make adjustments on the fly, to see things that I don’t even see, so it’s been fun coaching them and actually learning from them.”

Armani Reed, a 5-9 forward, known as “Muffin” to teammates, was the sixth person in the rotation last year and is now starting. Reed is leading in (11.2) points and (6.3) rebounds per game.

“She’s a major recruit,” Leyva says. “Louisville is sending her letters every day, N.C. State has called about her, Arkansas State has called about her, ORU has been in watching her practice and scrimmage twice. She is probably our biggest recruited player right now, so we’re expecting big things out of her and continue to grow with the program.

“In addition to her, we have Maryah Lowe, a junior who got some playing time last year. We have Brie Bolton and a great group of freshmen that I think are going to make us competitive for many years to come. It’s the deepest team with great talent. I’ve coached better individual players, but it’s the most talent, top to bottom, I’ve ever been fortunate to coach, so I’m really excited about that.”

Another is freshman Sia Johnson who started for the first time on Jan. 9 against McLain. She led the Lady Hornets with 14 points in a 59-point win.

BTW, of course, hopes to host a regional, make state again and win it all. 

Updated 01-29-2018

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