By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Union is off to a fast start in girls basketball.
Part of the reason is because of the leadership of 6’2″ forward Jayla Burgess.
Coming out of the holiday vacation, Union was 6-1 and ranked sixth in the Class 6A girls poll, and was No. 2 at one point in the season.
What has been the key to their run?
“I think sticking together as a team and being willing to work together, and just listening to coach (Joe) Redmond, sticking to his plan as a team and executing,” said Burgess, a West Texas A&M signee.
The Union girls, who are also coming off a state tournament appearance from last year, are now in the third season with Redmond as their coach.
“It’s always a change when you switch coaching staffs,” Burgess said. “But it was pretty smooth and I think throughout the years, it’s become even more smooth.”
Each opponent presents a different challenge and that’s what Burgess likes about the game of basketball.
“No matter who you are matched up with, it is always going to be different,” she said. “You are going to play teams who are more fundamental and you have to adjust. It’s always something new. It never gets boring because every single team is different.”
Burgess sees her versatility as the main thing that sets her apart.
“I play inside and out. That’s not unusual for post-players to be able to take the rebound and go coast-to-coast and share the ball.”
Union’s lone loss came against Sapulpa before Christmas break.
“Our energy just wasn’t there. It was just an off-game for us, and of course that is not an excuse and we just got to come back and be eager to work,” Burgess said.
Union lost that game, 58-45.
“Of course, it was hard,” she added. “But, we’re ready to bounce back and keep working.”
The wins have come against solid opponents in Bixby, Bartlesville, Blanchard, Mustang, Anadarko and Sand Springs.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” she said. “We just want to stay up there, keep working and don’t let it get to our heads. We have to just keep pushing through because we have some tough opponents coming up.”
Top-ranked Booker T. Washington and another meeting with Sapulpa are among the toughest games ahead for Union, Burgess said.
“Our team overall is very athletic,” Burgess said. “It is one of the most athletic years we have had. We have a bunch of young girls that really execute for us and really make it so we can be (ranked high) right now.”
Opening the season with six wins has been the most memorable stretch.
“We were doing really good at the very beginning and I think that momentum we had in the first six games is going to carry us because we know we can do it,” she said.
“I think if we set our minds we are capable of anything. We should be in the state tournament and all that and I think we have a good chance moving forward. Not too worried about it, but we’re going to have to be on our toes the whole game,” Burgess adds.