The thumpers are upon us.
Bryan County high schools are already all over the court and Southeastern tips off tonight and Saturday.
Coach Darin Grover’s young ladies will visit long-time rival Oklahoma Christian tonight and coach Kelly Green’s young men will host Dallas Christian College at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The funnies are finished and now the teams start playing for keeps.
Oklahoma Christian is making the move from NAIA to NCAA Division II and joining the Heartland Conference. Coach Stephanie Finley is certainly no stranger to Southeastern after many memorable battles against former SE coach Nick Keith.
A bonus for Durant fans tonight will be catching up with former Durant High standout Katy O’Steen, a 6-1 senior standout for the Eagles.
O’Steen is averaging 17 points and six rebounds for Oklahoma Christian (2-0). OC dropped a 118-53 exhibition game at the University of Oklahoma before knocking off Oklahoma Wesleyan 87-84 and Kansas Wesleyan 98-73.
The Eagles are averaging 92.5 points per game and allowing 78.5 ppg.
GROVER’S GALS are coming off a rare losing season when the Storm posted an 11-17 record in 2011-12.
The Storm must replace 50 points per game from last season when the gals for some reason suffered a power outage that saw them easing into the Great American Conference tournament and springing the upset of the event in the opening round.
Southeastern knocked off GAC regular-season champion and nationally ranked Arkansas Tech, 84-72, in a manner most had expected the Storm to play all season.
Grover has seven returnees from that team with the only starting experience belonging to Bailey Welch, a 5-5 senior guard from Cashion, Oklahoma. Welch played in all 28 games and started 21. She averaged 30 minutes per game, scored 8.5 points, had three rebounds, eight blocked shots, 19 steals and a team-high 132 assists.
Southeastern returns 22 points and 11 rebounds per game and Welch will figure strongly in the success of the 2012-13 team.
Grover said, “Bailey Welch has played a lot of minutes since her freshman year. She currently ranks fifth all-time in assists and is in striking distance of overtaking Ashley Tucker for third all-time.
“We are looking for Ronay English (5-6 junior guard from Anadarko) to step up and be a scorer for us this year.”
English played in 26 games last season and averaged 4.5 points.
Other returnees are Cheree Kiser (5-7, sophomore guard, Gainesville, Texas, Era High School), Kayle Reaves (5-8 senior guard, Bowie, Texas), Natalie Ruud (5-8, junior guard, Midlothian, Texas), Brooke Lane (5-10, sophomore forward, Saltillo, Texas), and Haley Schaefer (5-11, sophomore forward, Wright City).
“Haley and Ruud should start at the post positions for us,” Grover said. “Haley is a physically strong player who plays extremely hard and can score in the low post. Natalie is an outside threat who creates mismatches for opposing post players.
“Kayle hasn’t seen much playing time during her career at Southeastern, but she has really worked hard in the offseason and is currently playing her best basketball.”
Newcomers are LaQuencia Dorsey (5-8, freshman guard, Forney, Texas, North Forney High School), Taylor Richards (5-6, freshman guard, Durant), Breana Small-Peppers (5-9, freshman forward, McKinney, Texas), Madison Thames (5-6, freshman guard, Mt. Vernon, Texas), Shelby Hill (5-10, freshman guard/forward, Melissa, Texas), Emily Williams (5-7, sophomore guard, Martins Mill, Texas, and Wayland Baptist University), Gunnhildur Hansdottiir (5-10, freshman forward, Borgarnes, Iceland, Menntaskoll Borgarfjardar High School), and Demi Koelzer (5-9, freshman forward, Muenster, Texas).
“We will definitely have to count on our newcomers this year,” Grover said. “Emily Williams is a guard who transferred from Wayland Baptist (Flying Queens). She is a versatile player who can score in many different ways.
“Breana Small-Peppers is a very athletic post player who can score around the basket.
“Taylor Richards will be familiar to local fans since she was an outstanding player at Durant High School. She brings us speed and skill at the point-guard slot.”
Some of the faces will be different this season, but Storm fans know exactly what to expect from the team. It will be a toe-tapping tempo from opening tip to final whistle. The entertainment is first-class and this edition of Southeastern women’s basketball is anxious to show that last season was a fluke.
Grover said, “ This team has been a lot of fun work with so far this year. They have all bought into working hard and trying to do things the right way. We are going to be very inexperienced as a team, but I believe we have a talented team from top to bottom.
“We have a team that will compete hard on every play and I think our fans will enjoy watching these young ladies play.”
The Storm will host Northeastern Oklahoma in a 5:30 p.m. game Wednesday, November 14.
Local fans will have even more reason to be in Bloomer Sullivan Arena Monday, November 19, when Katy O’Steen and Oklahoma Christian come to town.
COACH KELLY GREEN’S men will host Dallas Christian College at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the home opener and first regular-season game.
Southeastern has played three exhibition games on NCAA Division I floors and made progress in each game.
The Storm, as was expected, dropped those three games. The third one, at the University of Texas-El Paso, was a seven-point loss at 70-63.
Green has been trying to solve the puzzle of starters and top substitutes and has five out-of country players on the roster.
Exhibition scoring has been led by Urald King, who was in double figures in all three games. Last year’s GAC Freshman of the Year, Anthony Worthy (6-11, 310) turned in a double-double against Brigham Young University, a team that figures to be a Top 25 club this season.
Tip time is 7:30 p.m. Saturday as the Storm take on the Dallas College Crusaders in Bloomer Sullivan Arena.