When the Shawnee boys basketball team tips off Friday night at Bishop McGuinness, head coach Ron Arthur will have a deep well of talent to draw from.
“We have a lot of interchangeable parts. It’s a good problem to have,” Arthur said. “Everyone that is on the varsity roster will be able to contribute.”
Arthur is entering his ninth season at the helm. He led last season’s Wolves squad to an 11-13 record and an appearance in the regional tournament, where they lost to Lawton MacArthur in the first round.
Graduation usurped some of Shawnee’s key contributors, which opens the season ranked No. 17 in Class 5A, but Arthur still has plenty of talent to fill the open spots they left.
Senior Wolf Kienzle, who finished last season starting in the post, will return to anchor that spot.
Fellow senior Landon Greene and junior Don Murphy, both of whom played significant time at the five-spot last season, will provide bench support at the post position.
Senior Theo Berry will move into a starting role at the wing. Berry won last year’s varsity Sixth Man Award coming off the bench.
Junior Marquese Tramble, who was Arthur’s primary backup point guard as a sophomore, should fill that role as a starter this season. Junior Trey Maston will fill out the backcourt at the other guard position.
That leaves one starting spot open.
“Our top position in our system is our rover spot, our four-man,” Arthur said. “It’s an inside-outside player. We have several candidates for that spot — Murphy, Luke Laster, Cole Humphrey. We can move Theo to that spot and play Aaron Yount or Austin Cooper. We have lots of guys that can play that part.”
Laster, Humphrey and Cooper are all sophomores. Yount is a junior.
“We have a young team. All those guys are going to play, somewhere down the line,” Arthur said. “We have a lot of depth. In the summertime, we told them that, in one game, one player may be called on, and then in another game it may be a totally different player.”
After Friday’s opener at No. 5 McGuinness, Shawnee will stay on the road at No. 14 Piedmont Dec. 4 and head south Dec. 6 for the Durant Tournament.
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Shawnee will host its first home game of the season Dec. 11 against No. 11 Deer Creek before hosting Ada — the first game of a home-and-home series.
“I think the Ada-Shawnee rivalry, that needs to be a good rivalry. We haven’t played them in the regular season since I’ve been here. We’ve played them in tournaments, but never in the regular season,” Arthur said. “I think Ada is one that our kids need to look forward to playing. They’re a good, solid team. All the games are important, but I’m really looking forward to the Ada games, for the environment.”
Shawnee will play both Bishop McGuiness and Ada in a home-and-home series. The Wolves will also participate in the Ada Tournament beginning Jan. 10.
“We used to have Harrah as that team we wanted to beat badly, in our home-and-home series. The loser would get another shot later in the season,” Arthur said. “I think we can have that with Ada.”
Thanks to a shakeup in Class 5A, the Wolves’ Suburban Conference schedule will not include Harrah, which moved to Class 4A, though the Wolves will travel to play the No. 11 Panthers Feb. 5.
“We play every conference opponent one time. Every one of those conference games will be important to us, because to win the title, we’ll have to win out,” Arthur said.
Other schedule highlights include the Shawnee Invitational tournament, beginning Jan. 24, and a home date with No. 3 Carl Albert Feb. 8.
“We want the stands to be packed for every game. They [our players] deserve it,” Arthur said. “They work so hard in practice. They’re great kids, they play hard, and they’ll be exciting to watch.”