By SHAWN YORKS
• Leader & Times
The gifts have been opened, the Christmas dinner has settled, and now it’s time for several area high school basketball teams to get back to business. The Beaver boys and girls head south to Canadian, Texas on Wednesday through Friday for the Canadian Wildcat tournament, while the Forgan Bulldog boys go to Tulsa for the 46th annual Cherokee Nation Entertainment Tournament of Champions Tuesday through Thursday.
The tournament will take place at Tulsa’s Expo Square Pavilion.
Unbeaten Forgan (8-0), ranked No. 2 in Class B, opens the tournament against unbeaten Muskogee (5-0), ranked No. 2 in Class 6A. Tip-off is 8:30 p.m.
Other opening round games include No. 2 (5A) Tulsa Washington (4-0) vs. No. 6 (2A) Stratford (Okla.) at 2 p.m., No. 2 (2A) Talihina (5-0) vs. No. 5 (5A) Tulsa East Central (2-0) at 3:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m., No. 10 (5A) Tulsa Edison takes on No. 3 (2A) Preston (8-1), whose only loss came against No. 6 (A) Frontier in the championship of the Frontier Shootout.
The Washington-Stratford and Talihina-East Central winners amd the Preston-Edison and Forgan-Muskogee winners will meet in the semifinals Wednesday night.
The title game is set at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Beaver boys and girls teams open play in Canadian on Wednesday, with the boys taking on Groom, Texas.
“We don’t see those schools very much,” said Beaver head boys coach Brian Stalder, who has seen his Dusters improve to 6-3 after a 2-3 start. “I don’t know much about Groom. They don’t know much about us. It’s kind of nice to see some different people and not see the same schools all the time.”
Stalder likes playing in tournaments over the holiday break.
“It frees up some space in January for us,” he said. “We get actual practice time in January instead of play, play, play.”
The Lady Dusters enter the tournament No. 10 in the state in Class A with a 9-0 record. Beaver opens the tournament against Clarendon, Texas.
“They’ve got a really good sophomore post and a good shooter,” said head coach Casey Jones. “So they’re going to be a challenge, too.”
Amarillo San Jacinto, Wellington (Texas) and Gruver (Texas) are on Beaver’s side of the bracket. The Lady Dusters downed Gruver by just four points earlier in the season — their closest game of the season so far.
“Our side of the bracket has really got some good teams, and we need to play teams like that,” Jones said. “That’s one of the reasons we like to go down there. We get matched up with people that work real hard against us, and anytime somebody does that, it improves us.”