It will likely be a trying season for the Ryan Cowboy and Cowgirl basketball squads.
The most trying aspect of the upcoming 2018-19 season will be having a place to play and practice as the Ryan gym undergoes a significant makeover.
It is hoped that a limited number of games can be played at home, but otherwise the Cowboys and Cowgirls will be on the road most of the season.
The Cowgirls and Cowboys will open the season on Tuesday by hosting Grandfield. Tipoff for the high school games will be 6:30 p.m. after a pair of junior high contests against the Bearcats.
It will be the homecoming game for Ryan because of the uncertainty of the future availability of the facilities.
Construction of the remodeled gym that opened in 1957 is going well and at the moment is on time for completion near the end of the current basketball season. The updated facility will feature new home locker rooms, a new concession area, and new entry.
The biggest change in the gym will be an added limited number of seats on the south side. The south side will be the new home of the bench areas and the scorer’s table.
Watch for announcements about changes for the location of upcoming games on social media or in this newspaper.
Second-year Cowgirl coach Steve Spangler is hopeful his three returning starters, who were all-conference a year ago, will be able to carry the squad that is small in number.
The Cowgirls will depend on the return of Samantha Good, Lily York and Juliet Spangler to carry what will be a rather young squad that will feature five juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen.
Those three will be counted on to provide the bulk of the offense and hopefully, the Cowgirls can find some more scoring. York was the co-offensive most valuable player in the Southern Eight Conference a year ago and was the leading scorer in 13 of the Cowgirls’ 24 games.
Spangler says at least one and at times, two freshmen will work their way into the starting lineup.
The Cowgirls traveled to Oklahoma City to face some tough foes in preseason scrimmages and the team held its own, according to Spangler.
Last season the Cowgirls made a marked improvement but still finished only 8-16 after going 3-20 in 2017. The team did finish as the district runner-up.
In the Southern Eight, Spangler believes that Big Pasture will be the top contender as the Lady Rangers welcome all five starters back from a year ago.
The Cowboys will be under the direction of first-year coach Austin Masoner. Not only is it his first as the Cowboy mentor, but it is also his first year of full-time coaching responsibilities.
According to Masoner, the Cowboy practices have been spirited and the 15-man roster seems to be buying into what Masoner hopes the team will become during the 2019 campaign.
Overall, the Cowboys will feature some size that will enable play with an inside post. Guard play is also in good hands for the Cowboys.
Grayson Tomberlin, who started a year ago as a freshman, and senior Skyler Parkhill, a Southern Eight Conference all-star last season, will be called upon to carry the offense. Those two were the leading scorers for the Cowboys in 11 of the 22 contests last season.
Travis Fristoe and Brock Smith will be counted on to help carry the Cowboy defense. The Cowboys will employ a great deal of zone defense, but Masoner noted he would also mix in some man-to-man and specialty defenses of the situation called for it.
The Cowboys’ weakness this season will be the overall lack of experience. The Cowboys also lack depth at the guard positions, but Masoner is hoping he can develop some of the other plays to help with the ball-handling.
The Cowboys hope to rebound from the disastrous 2018 season when the Cowboys slumped to a 5-17 mark after posting four straight winning records and two district titles.
The race for the conference title may be a tough one with Waurika and Big Pasture looking to be the top contenders along with conference newcomer Frederick.
The scheduled season-opener with Waurika was postponed because of the involvement of both schools in the football playoffs.
Following the season lid-lifter with Grandfield, the Cowboys and Cowgirls will travel to St. Jo, Texas for an invitational tournament.
The Cowgirls get the tourney started a week from today (November 29) with a 1:30 p.m. contest against Alvord. If the Cowgirls get a first-round win, they will play on November 30 at 1:30 p.m. against the winner of Sacred Heart and Ringling.
The Cowboys will take the court in the St. Jo Tournament on November 29 when they take on the Paradise Junior Varsity. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. and the game will be played in the auxiliary gym at the St. Jo campus. A win would advance the Cowboys to a 6 p.m. game on November 30 against the winner of Sacred Heart and St. Jo.
The next weekend the Cowboys and Cowgirls will compete in the Black and Gold Classic hosted by Wilson.