By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
A big part behind the success of Owasso basketball is the performance of Kyler Mann.
A 6-5 senior forward who alternates between the shooting and power spots, Mann was named Tournament MVP after the Rams won 73-49 against Bishop Kelley in the boys’ championship game of the Port City Classic, played Jan. 23 at Victory Christian.
Mann was the second leading scorer in that game with 13 points. Teammate Trenton Ellison led the team with 17 points.
After prevailing in the title game, the Rams improved their record to 9-1 and were ranked seventh in the Class 6A boys’ poll. But that won’t matter to Mann and the rest of the Rams if they don’t make state next month.
“Last year, we came up short,” Mann said. “At the end, in the locker room after we lost, we all had goals on the board. So we all knew we had to buy in for this year to reach those goals. We are already together, we are already committed.”
Of course, the state tournament ended up not happening thanks to COVID-19.
Mann felt bad for each team that made the field.
“It was messed up that those seniors didn’t get to play last year in the state tournament,” he said.
With the pandemic continuing, persevering through practice and games has been hard for Owasso.
“We all know what we got to do to stay healthy and be able to practice,” Mann said. “So if we all follow the rules, we know we’re good.
“We already got quarantined for two weeks in October. But we just worked out, tried to stay in shape as much as we could,“ Mann said. “When we came back, we were ready.”
The Rams had games against Bixby and Broken Arrow called off in the second week of last month due to COVID reasons.
The playoffs will begin later in February. Owasso will conclude the regular season beforehand with games on the road against Bartlesville (Feb. 2), Booker T. Washington (Feb. 5) and Jenks (Feb. 9). Back-to-back home games against Union (Feb. 12) and Bixby (Feb. 16) will follow. Then comes a road game at Broken Arrow (Feb. 19).
“We just take one game at a time and pride ourselves on defense and execution. That has kept us winning games and getting stops in important situations,” Mann said.
What the Owasso senior likes about basketball is how much fun you have when you’re in the game.
“In the heat of the moment, it’s always fun to play, so it’s like one of the best feelings,” he added.
Mann hopes to play at the college level. But nothing is set yet.
He sees himself being pretty athletic.
“I think I can use my length and my athleticism to bother people on defense. It helps me get rebounds,” he said.
Favorite moves of his are the in-and-out and the spin. Mann’s favorite NBA player is Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors.
“He can post up and do spin moves,” he said.
So far, the most memorable moment for Mann came when he made a buzzer-beater in a game early this season against Jenks before halftime.
The Rams dominated that game and led 40-17 at the break. They went on to win 78-46.
The faith in Mann’s teammates runs strong with him.
“I believe in everybody on our team,” he said. “If anyone makes a bad play or something. I’m always picking them up because I know they’re going to need to have their head in the game for the next play. So I know I got to keep them up.”
And by doing that, Mann and the other Rams are hoping for a trip to state.
“I’m pretty confident,” he added. “I feel like we just can’t worry about what everybody else is saying. We just need to worry about what we know and what we can do. If we do that, we’ll succeed.”