By JASON EPP
• Leader & Times
After the Forgan-Beaver matchup, I spoke with the Forgan seniors and head coach Todd Kerr about their experience in Tulsa, playing in the Tournament of Champions over Christmas Break. Forgan went 1-2 in the tournament; defeating 2A Preston 49-43, and losing to 5A No.3 Tulsa East Central and then 6A No.1 Muskogee. The latter, by only three points to a school who’s average daily high school enrollment (1546) is 27 times larger than Forgan’s (57).
“It was fun,” said senior post player Tayler Eagan. “It was like we had nothing to lose. We got to play for fun, and play against good talent and see how the real big boys play. We found out how good we could play - playing as a team. We played patient, I thought too; looking for the shots we needed. It was fun.”
On the court, the Bulldogs biggest thrill came on opening night when Forgan came within a last-second three of sending the game to overtime against Muskogee.
“We gave them a good game,” said Tyler McReynolds. “After the game we just talked about how we played with one of the best teams anywhere. At halftime we were like ‘we can do this we can hang with them.’ Lot of big people, lot of good people, but I like playing against the big boys. It’s fun to get in there and bang with them. When you’re the underdog it’s always fun to come up and play with the big guys.”
Fellow senior Matt Morris saw how these games were important in helping them this season.
“It was really good for us. Kind of see what it will be like come playoff time, be a little faster. Pretty tough games, but I think it will be good for us. I think nerves got to us a little bit before the game. We were very shocked that we were hanging with them. Luckily we made some very big shots, and gave us a chance to get into overtime. It was a lot of fun.”
Even though Coach Kerr did not know what to expect, the experience was quite memorable.
“We didn’t have any idea what we were getting into, until we got there,” Kerr said. “I think we were all kind of in awe just not knowing. But the experience - was an unbelievable experience that I think the kids are going to remember for a lifetime. We were a basket away from beating 6A No.1, and as the tournament went on we gained a lot of followers through that week.
“I had so many people come up to me and talk to me about how great our kids acted, and how fun it was to watch them play. The whole experience couldn’t have been better. Those three games were the most fun I’ve had coaching basketball in a long time; especially that first one against Muskogee.
“It’s the first time I can remember going into a ball game in a long time that we weren’t supposed to win; being on the other side, knowing that you have nothing to lose so just go get after it. You know, we knocked some shots down there at the end, and got close I didn’t think about anything other than we were just having fun. Overall the experience was just a blast.”
As with any trip with a group of high school boys there were a couple of memorable events off the court.
“Me, Tanner, and Tayler roomed together down there,” said McReynolds. “Tanner decided we were going to order brownies from the café downstairs. We got two brownies and two Dr. Peppers and it cost us about 30 bucks. Dumbest move I think we ever made.”
And finally. a gorilla.
“The coaches took us to Dave & Buster’s one night,” said Morris. “Coach (Brett) Trippet, the girl’s coach, has really stepped up this year and helped us out a lot with defense and everything. We decided we wanted to get him something. So we gathered up all our tickets and got him a big gorilla.”