Curt Knox knows all about the history of the Faith 7 Basketball Bowl.
In a 33-year high school coaching career, 30 of which came at Harrah, Knox saw more than his share of Faith 7 games pitting Oklahoma and Texas standouts.
So when Knox was asked to be the head coach of the Oklahoma squad in today’s inaugural Faith 7 girls game, he was elated.
“I consider it an honor to be chosen for the first game,” Knox said. “I think it’s a tremendous selling point for kids. It’s just fantastic — and about time. Hopefully, it will bring a few more fans out.”
The girls will tip off at 1:30 p.m. at Oklahoma Baptist University’s Noble Complex with the boys slated for 3:30.
Dale’s Hannah Ash is excited about being a member of the Oklahoma squad.
“I was surprised when I was picked because I didn’t know anything about the Faith 7 Game,” Ash said. “I asked my coach, Josh Forsythe, about the game, and he said I should definitely be a part of it. I am really honored. I have played against some of my Faith 7 teammates for four years.”
Ash, who will play for Seminole State, led Dale to a 29-3 record. She averaged 15.2 points and four rebounds while shooting 59.1 percent from the field and 82 percent from the charity stripe.
The 52nd annual boys contest has been plagued by defections, particularly from Division 1 commitments.
Norman North’s Trae Young, a McDonald’s and Jordan All-American, Gatorade Player of the Year and University of Oklahoma signee, won’t be here. Nor will fellow Sooner-to-be and 6-9 Harrah product Brady Manek, who would have been the fourth Manek to play in the Faith 7 Game.
Young was just selected to attend the 2017 USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team tryouts June 18-25 in Colorado Springs.
Faith 7 Bowl Committee Chairman Bobby Canty said Young and Manek committed to the game in late March, but Shawnee officials weren’t notified of the no-show status until the past few days.
Tulsa Union’s 6-9 Ethan Chargois and Tulsa Central’s Eli Landrum, both bound for SMU, were additional no-shows. Oklahoma’s Faith 7 coaches were informed of their decisions Thursday.
Heritage Hall’s Sayvon Milton also opted not to play. Milton is headed for OBU as a trackster.
Another future Bison, 6-7 Harrison Stoddart of Edmond North, is a member of the Oklahoma squad. Stoddart led the Huskies to this year’s Class 6A state championship, averaging 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. He shot 59 percent from the field and 84 percent from the line.
The most-publicized member of the Texas roster, Marcus Garrett of Dallas Skyline, won’t be on hand. Garrett told Lone Star State coaches a week and a half ago he would have to cancel because his collegiate choice, Kansas, would be in Europe on a basketball trip.
The chain of events left Faith 7 coaches from both Texas and Oklahoma scrambling to complete rosters. North Texas signee Umoja Gibson of Waco, who averaged 22.2 points and 11 assists, was supposed to be headed to Shawnee Friday. Another Waco product, Antoine Hailey, was slated to arrive in Oklahoma City, via bus, late Friday night. Canty was scheduled to pick up Hailey.
“We haven’t had the problems with the girls who committed to the game like we’ve had with the boys,” Canty said.
Cherie Myers, an assistant coach for the Oklahoma squad, said just one player was missing from the original 10-member roster. Choctaw’s Ana Llaunusa, an OU signee, wasn’t cleared by Oklahoma.
Two other Division 1-bound Oklahomans, Adair’s Keni Jo Lippe and Heritage Hall’s Abbie Winchester, are upholding their Faith 7 commitments. Lippe, who inked with Oral Roberts, led Adair to a 25-3 record. She averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds. Winchester, an Oklahoma State signee, led the Lady Chargers to an 18-8 record. She averaged 11.4 points and 11.7 boards.
“This is a great game because it’s for charity,” Knox said. “When you are from Harrah, you know what Faith 7 is.”
Proceeds from the Faith 7 Bowl are used to send community members to Special Olympics as well as provide funds for other training experiences.
Oklahoma leads the Faith 7 series, 35-21, including a 146-101 domination last year. Texas has prevailed in three of the last five matchups.