By Mike Tupa
Next up, Broken Arrow.
That’s the agenda for Bartlesville High School’s girls’ basketball team as it segues from regular season skirmishes to postseason wars.
The Lady Bruins and Broken Arrow Lady Tigers collide on Thursday at Tulsa Union in the opening round of the Class 6A regionals.
Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m.
Bartlesville is looking to build the momentum — and adjustments — of Monday’s 54-34 home win against Sapulpa.
Among the moves by head coach Donnie Martin and his wife Lori, who works with the defense, was to move senior guard Jena’ Williams from the top of the 2-3 zone to one of the forward wings.
“We’re preparing for the playoffs,” coach Donnie Martin explained about the new look. “She may run down there. That may be a spot she may have to play. She’s bigger and a little more physical than some of our guards. She can be physical when she wants to be.”
Having Williams on the bottom on defense also might be boost in rebounding, he added.
Although the test against Sapulpa was somewhat inconclusive — because the Lady Chieftains either rested or gave limited minutes to its starters for the postseason — Martin praised his team’s energy and offensive savvy.
Less than a week earlier, Sapulpa had defeated the Lady Bruins by 10 points, 62-52, making this week’s 20-point win — albeit with different circumstances—a 30-point turnaround.
“I thought we had of good scoring opportunities offensively,” Martin said about Monday’s game. “And, we didn’t turn the ball over as much as we had the game before.”
Now it’s on to the playoffs.
On paper, Broken Arrow (9-14, 3-11) doesn’t seem to pose a tremendous challenge to the Lady Bruins (17-6, 9-5).
On top of that, during a regular season Frontier Valley Conference meeting, Bartlesville mauled the Lady Tigers, 65-38.
Broken Arrow also is coming off a 77-67 win against Jenks, which snapped a six-game losing streak in conference games.
But, regardless of Broken Arrow’s spotty credentials, Martin isn’t looking past anyone.
“They (the Lady Tigers) don’t quit,” he said. “They play hard to end. … We want to control the tempo and we want to make sure we have good spacing.”
During the Bartlesville-Broken Arrow battle earlier this month, starting Lady Bruin guard Chloe Martin missed about the half the game due to foul trouble.
Forward Erika Gruber stepped up to fill the void by scoring 17 points, many of them on backdoor layups off passes from Williams.
“Spacing is important and tempo is important and making sure they only get one shot,” Martin emphasized. “Controlling the boards is important.”
Spearheading Bartlesville’s effort in the postseason will be a trio of playoff battle-tested veterans in Williams, Trinity Parker and Chloe Martin.
Parker — certainly not the tallest Lady Bruin — has been the jumper on the opening tip due to her athleticism and quickness, Martin added.
The winner of Thursday’s game will likely play Tulsa Union in Saturday’s regional championship game.
The area and state playoffs will follow.
Bartlesville last year made it to state for the first time since 1992.