Mitchel wants to use TOC in December to prepare Lady Warriors for March
Competitive as she is, Haley Mitchel doesn’t have visions of the Tournament of Champions championship trophy dancing in her head this holiday season.
That also doesn’t mean she doesn’t have expectations for her Okarche girls basketball team when it tips off in the 57th annual event this week at Tulsa’s BOK Center.
“Your goal going into every game is to win,” said Mitchel, now in her third season as Okarche’s head coach.
“But in a tournament like this, winning can’t be your only goal.”
It also won’t be easy. The Lady Warriors begin the tournament at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Bixby, the second-ranked team in Class 6A.
The Lady Spartans were last year’s 6A state runners- up and are currently 5-1 with their lone loss being a 48-42 setback to No. 1 Edmond North (the team that also beat them in the state finals).
Okarche is 6-2 and ranked ninth in Class A.
The Lady Warriors reached the state semifinals last season and are currently riding a five-game win streak.
They lost by four in overtime at 2A No. 5 Preston in the season opener. Two games later, they were dealt a setback by Class B No. 1 Lomega.
A 19-point win over Oklahoma Bible Academy last Saturday has been Okarche’s closest game since.
Winning even one game in the Tournament of Champions isn’t a given this year.
On Okarche’s side of the bracket are 4A No. 5 Holland Hall and 3A No. 5 Kiefer.
The opposite side of the bracket features Norman (No. 5 in 6A), Lincoln Christian (No. 2 in 4A), Sapulpa (No. 1 in 5A) and Pocola (No. 1 in 2A).
Again, Mitchel said winning is preferred, but much can be gained just by playing the games.
“We want to see what we are capable of doing against top competition over a three-day span,” Mitchel said.
Three games in late December, she added, should pay dividends for Three Rivers Conference games in January and then the playoffs in February and March.
“We would like to compete against some of the best in the state and use this tournament as a chance to prepare for upcoming games and the playoffs,” she said.