By SHAWN YORKS
• Daily Leader
BEAVER, Okla. — It’s always a good thing when your school’s football team makes the playoffs. But for small rural schools, it can play havoc with basketball season.
Such is the case in Beaver, where the Duster boys basketball team has only had one week to prepare for tonight’s season-opener against Hooker.
“When you make the playoffs in Oklahoma they unfortunately don’t give you dead weeks and stuff like that to get you on even ground,” said Beaver head boys coach Brian Stalder. “We were real sore the first couple days, a little beat up. But I’ve got a crew that’s pretty veteran.”
Beaver went 14-9 last year and was knocked out of the playoffs in the regional tournament by tonight’s opponent, the Hooker Bulldogs. Hooker has a seasoned team, but a new coach, which means the Bulldogs have only had two weeks to learn a whole new system.
“We watched Hooker, after they beat us, make a nice run in the playoffs,” Stalder said. “We felt like we could have been there.
“Hooker’s kind of in the same boat somewhat there. They changed coaches and he’s trying to get a whole new system in in two weeks. At least my kids aren’t having to learn everything, they’re just trying to knock the rust off.”
Taking the court for the Dusters tonight will be Samuel Becker and Cole Trippet, last year’s leading scorers.
“We’ll rely on them to lead us, not just on game night, but in practice, setting the tone,” Stalder said. “The kids kind of look to those two.”
Seniors Tanner McFarland and Allan Butterfield will also be looked upon as leaders on the court.
“That core of four seniors have been around for a long time for us,” Stalder said.
Becker has started on varsity for four years and Trippet has played extensively since his sophomore year after starting sporadically as a freshman.
“The other seniors played quite a bit last year as juniors,” Stalder said.
Beaver will be a little bit inexperienced at the post position.
“That’ll be key for us, too, will be how good they can become,” Stalder said. “I’m looking at two kids playing there, David Rivera, who was a very good football player for us. An athletic kid, but is just a little green and hopefully he’ll gain the experience he needs and the confidence.
“Then there’s Kalen Gable. Those two will fill a lot of our time in the post and really are going to be the key to what we do.”
For the Lady Dusters, just about everybody is back from last year’s 17-7 team that fell in the regional tournament.
“I’ve got four seniors that are probably going to start,” said Lady Dusters head coach Casey Jones.
Ana McDonald, Jordan Jesko, Erin Becker and Katie Rife will be back in the starting lineup for Beaver.
“And I’ll probably start a freshman, Jacinda Balderrama,” Jones said.
So the pieces are in place, it’s just time to take care of business on the court, and that begins tonight in the Duster Dome against Hooker.
“We’re pretty excited about the year,” Jones said. “We’re kind of chomping at the bit to start playing to see what other things we need to work on. But we’ve got high hopes.
“Beaver girls basketball has been pretty good for 20, 25 years and we have high expectations every year when we step on the floor and this year’s no different.”
And as for who the Lady Dusters play, all that doesn’t matter to Jones.
“We’re ready to play, who ever’s in front of us is what we’re going to get ready for and play,” Jones said. “There’s always kind of special rivalries with our Panhandle Conference teams which would be Hooker, Forgan, Turpin and Texhoma, those are always kind of special games because they are conference.
“But other than that we have a pretty tough schedule.”
The Lady Dusters take on Laverne, Gruver (Texas) and Southwestern Heights, as well.
“All those are games to look forward to,” Jones said. “They’re all important.”
Beaver Dusters Schedule
Nov. 19 — Hooker
Nov. 23 — @ Buffalo
Nov. 30 — @ Guymon
Dec. 3 — Forgan
Dec. 7 — @ Gruver, Texas
Dec. 9-11 — Rolla Tournament
Dec. 17 — Booker, Texas
Dec. 29-31 — Canadian, Texas Tournament
Jan. 4 — @ Follett, Texas
Jan. 6-8 — Woodward Tourn.
Jan. 14 — @ Forgan
Jan. 18 — Turpin
Jan. 21 — Rolla
Jan. 25 — @ Hooker
Jan. 28 — Texhoma
Feb. 4 — Laverne
Feb. 8 — @ Southwestern Hts.