There is little doubt which team of Waurika boys’ basketballers should be at the top of the best teams in school history.
That would be the 1973 Eagles who not only won a state title, but went undefeated while doing it.
The rest of the teams that have made the state tourney are on the list of top ten Eagle basketball teams in school history.
After those six teams, the debate is wide open about which teams should be included, but that can work itself out in local conversations at the local coffee shop or in homes of families from Waurika that have impacted the history of basketball in the community.
As has been mentioned in previous articles of this nature, if you know of a team that should be considered for this list or even a team that could rank in the honorable mention category, please let this writer know.
Here is the attempt to rank the 10 best Waurika Eagle basketball teams of all-time:
1. 1973 Eagles
This team finished 28-0 on the year on the way to the gold ball. The Eagles were the only undefeated boys basketball team in Oklahoma during this season. Jerry Gipson was the face of this team as he finished the 1973 season averaging 31.4 points a game and earning all-state honors. In the state tournament the Eagles were tested in the first two rounds. Waurika edged Silo, 42-40, in the quarterfinals behind Gipson’s 30-point outburst. In the semifinals, the Eagles managed to slip by New Lima, 72-70. The largest margin of victory in the state tourney came in the finals when the Eagles downed Boley, 66-58. The Eagles won the three games by a total of 13 points which was a state tournament record at the time for that class and stood for several years. The Eagles had breezed through the district, regional and area tournament with the toughest game of the post-season before the state tourney coming in the finals of the district tournament – a narrow 50-48 victory over Grandfield. Starters on this team included Gipson, Harrold Herron, Michael Ford, Dale Bates and Duane Christian. This team would garner consideration for one of the top Class A teams of all time in Oklahoma. Jerry Marsh was the coach of this squad.
2. 1989 Eagles
This squad is the only other team to play for a state title, but the 1989 squad came up short as they fell to Weleetka, 66-57, in the championship game. Doug Frost was the leading scorer in the game with 12 points – ten of which were scored in a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Eagles. The Eagles had advanced to the state finals by hammering Hennessey, 81-66, and defeating Porter, 75-72. Todd Overstreet scored 19 points in both wins to pace the Eagles in scoring. Waurika started the march to the state tournament with a 69-50 victory over Walters in the district finals. Waurika picked up a pair of narrow wins in the regional tournament. In the first round, Waurika defeated Carnegie, 65-56, on the Wildcats’ home floor. In the regional finals the Eagles squeezed by Cache, 60-58, in overtime. In the area tournament Waurika earned a 68-60 victory over Latta in the finals. Mikel Davison was the coach of this team that ended the season with a 21-6 record.
3. 1981 Eagles
This team finished the season with an impressive 22-6 mark and fell in the state semifinals to an undefeated Coyle team, 86-62. Kerry Lott had 14 points in the game. The Eagles were a surprise team to make the semifinals, but the squad scored an 57-55 upset victory over Taft in the semifinals. Floyd Gipson hit a bucket with 19 seconds left from inside the lane to give the Eagles the win. Gipson had battled flu symptoms the days preceding the state tourney. Jimmy Davis, a freshman and son of coach Ross Davis, led the Eagles in scoring with 22 points. This was the first Waurika team to qualify for state since 1973. Waurika claimed its 18th district title with a win over Turner to begin the march to state. The Eagles defeated Bray, 63-48, and Sterling, 64-60, to advance to the area tourney. The Eagles dropped a heart-breaking 45-44 decision to Snyder, but came back the next night to defeat Cement, 56-47, to claim the area consolation title and a berth at the state tourney. This team was ranked only 14th in the class heading into the playoffs of the 1981 season. Coach Davis had played on a state title team at Calera in 1956.
4. 1965 Eagles
The 1965 edition of the Eagle basketball team was the first team in school history to land a berth in the state tournament. The Eagles finished the season with a 24-5 mark and were ranked 20th in the Class B rankings heading into the playoffs. In the district tourney the Eagles defeated three long-time rivals – Temple, Grandfield and Walters. The Eagles carried that momentum into the regional fray where they scored a 57-51 victory over Frederick and a 68-46 win over Cyril to advance to the state tournament. The first round game pitted the Eagles with Checotah, who had been ranked as high as sixth in the state, but came into this game unranked. The game was a barn-burner and the Eagles came out on top, 63-62, in double overtime. Greg Edwards had 30 points in the contest and was the only 30-point scorer in the state tournament that year. In the semifinals, the Eagles met second-ranked Oologah and the Mustangs proved to be too tough for the Eagles. The Mustangs advanced into the finals with a 63-49 victory over Waurika. Edwards had 17 points in the game and was named to the all-tournament team. Edwards, Bill Conrad, Jerry Beaver, Larry Kirkland and Steve Snider were the five starters most of the year. Ray Griffin and Mike Melton were among the reserves that played significant minutes. Gayno Shelton was the coach of the Eagles for this season.
5. 1990 Eagles
This is the first and only Waurika team to make back-to-back appearances in the state tournament. The Eagles carved out a 22-5 record, but fell to second-ranked Dale, 75-54, in the first round of the state tourney. Overstreet led the Eagles with 21 points in the loss. The playoffs started in impressive fashion for this team as the Eagles downed Empire, 88-41, to claim the district crown. The Eagles struggled in regional tourney play, but managed a 43-41 decision over Davis in the first round before falling to St. Mary’s, 66-54, in the regional finals. The Eagles entered the area tourney in the losers’ bracket but picked up wins over Snyder, 91-71, and Hollis, 64-58, to set up a rematch with St. Mary’s in the finals. The Eagles squeaked out a 60-59 victory to earn a berth in the Class 2A state tourney. Lonnie Nunley, Doug Frost, Stefan Hunt and David Davison all scored in double figures to lead the Eagles to the win. Those four players, along with Overstreet, were the starters for most of the season. Mikel Davison was also the coach of this team.
6. 1983 Eagles
The circumstances surrounding this team’s state tourney appearance are bizarre. First of all the team was 6-8 in January and won 13 of its final 15 games to make the state tournament. Secondly, it was thought the season was over following a 60-53 loss to Crooked Oak in the regional finals. But it was discovered early the next week that Crooked Oak had played an ineligible player that had transferred from Capitol Hill, thus forcing the Rufnex to forfeit all the wins of the season. This put Waurika in the area tournament consolation bracket. The Eagles took advantage of the opportunity with three wins in the area tourney to gain a state tournament berth. Waurika rolled over Pocola, 82-62, then beat Latta, 46-44, in the semifinals to set up a meeting with Lone Grove for a spot at the state tournament. The Eagles rolled to a 63-46 victory over the Longhorns. In the first round of the state tournament the Eagles faced Allen, who was ranked 12th in Class 2A and had a 21-4 record. The Mustangs were ranked fifth in the preseason that year. Waurika was not ranked in the preseason or in the final Class 2A rankings, but by the time the state tourney rolled around Waurika had put together a 19-10 record. The Eagles’ storybook season ended in the contest with Allen as the Mustangs got the 63-57 victory. Mike Nunley was the leading scorer on this team with a 20.0 per game average. The other starters were Lance Bruton, Roy Don Park, Russell Barrett and Quanah West. Mikel Davison was also the coach of this squad.
The 2005-2006 season started well as the Eagles soared to an 8-1 record at the Christmas break. The Eagles continue to pile up the victories and eventually worked themselves into the 17th-ranked team in Class A by February. Waurika sported a 21-2 record heading into the post-season.
The Eagles hosted the district tournament and the squad opened the playoff run with a 66-50 victory over Bray-Doyle.
The Eagles traveled east for the regional tournament and defeated Stratford, 74-63, in the first round played at Stonewall. The regional title game was played at Macomb but was postponed from the Saturday date to Monday because of inclement weather. The Eagles picked up a tense 56-54 victory to advance to the area tournament needing only one win to make the state tourney. Waurika faced 13th-ranked Thomas in the area winners’ bracket finals, but the Terriers earned the state tourney berth with a 41-34 victory over the Eagles. In the area consolation finals Waurika took on 11th-ranked Okarche and fell to the Warriors, 60-44. Jeremy Hogan was the coach of this team and it was the last boys’ squad to win at least 20 games finishing with a 24-6 record.
8. 1982 Eagles
This season was sandwiched between two seasons that the Eagles made the state tournament and while the squad fell short, it put together an impressive season. The second-ranked Eagles started the Class 2A playoffs with a district tournament win over Walters. In the regional tournament’s first round, the Eagles pounded Rush Springs, 70-34. The playoff run got very tough and In the tourney finals the Eagles dropped a heartbreaker to seventh-ranked Ninnekah, 57-55. The Eagles drew another tough assignment in the first round of the losers’ bracket in the area tournament in fifth-ranked Hollis. The Tigers rolled to a 57-36 victory and what was a very promising season ended on a difficult note. The Eagles finished with a 23-3 record after entering the playoffs with a 21-1 mark. Ross Davis, who coached the Eagles to a pair of 20-win seasons in his four years at the helm, directed this squad.
9. 1971 Eagles
This was the first of three Jerry Marsh-coached squads that produced at least 20 wins in a season. The Eagles were impressive throughout the regular season and started the playoff run with an 18-4 record. In the district tournament the Eagles dropped Temple, 57-53, and came back to claim the district title over Lawton MacArthur, 61-60. In the first regional tournament game the 15th-ranked Eagles managed a 56-54 victory over Cyril to advance to the regional finals. Cache, the 10th-ranked club in Class A handed the Eagles a 67-52 loss in the title game. This was the first year, however, that a team could lose a game (from the district finals forward) and remain in the playoffs. The Eagles played in their first area tourney at Oklahoma Christian College and defeated Kellyville, 70-68, in the first game. In the next game, the seventh-ranked Wellston Tigers eliminated the Eagles with an 82-57 victory. In the final rankings the Eagles finished 14th and the season ended with a 21-5 record.
10. 1972 Eagles
It was late January before this team experienced a defeat. The Eagles climbed to as high as fourth in the Class A rankings on January 24 as the team was sporting a sparkling 15-0 record. The Eagles stumbled a bit before the district tourney and held a 17-3 record and were ranked 15th in Class A. The Eagles benefitted from the new playoff system that allowed both teams from the district title game to advance to the regional tourney. Waurika won a first-round game over Temple, but fell to 11th-ranked Grandfield, 76-56, in the district finals. The Eagles were, however, impressive in the losers’ bracket of the regional tournament. Waurika defeated Granite, 81-80, in the first round and then handed Cyril a 60-57 overtime loss in the semifinals. In the finals the Eagles earned an area tourney berth with a thrilling 66-65 victory over Cheyenne. In those three regional games the Eagles margin of victory totaled five points. In the first game of the area tourney the Eagles had another close encounter and came out on top of Keyes, 85-82, at Southwestern State in Weatherford. The next night the Eagles faced 12th-ranked Cache and fell, 93-65. Jerry Marsh directed the Eagle fortunes for the season.
Honorable Mention: 1938 Eagles (lost to Blair in the regional finals; 1996 Eagles (This team lost in the regional finals to Apache); 1937 Eagles (Finished 17-14 on the year and was the district runner up); 1994 Eagles (Fell in the regional consolation finals to Burns Flat-Dill City); 1925 Eagles (this team finished 18-7 on the year but did not enter the district tournament.