Rhone said the Buffs started coming together at a basketball camp at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee over the summer. They played especially well in a Dec. 13 game against Wewoka in the consolation semifinals of the Okemah Invitational.
The Buffs beat Wewoka 64-59, then came back the next day to beat Riverside in the consolation finals.
“We all stepped it up, all together,” Rhone said of the Wewoka game.
“We can go as far as we want to go, as long as we keep working. If we keep working hard, we can go as far as we can imagine. But if we start slowing down and not playing well, it’s going to be just like last year.”
Zike said Rhone brings a level of athleticism to his position that works well with McAlester’s fast-paced offense, and Rhone agreed that the 2013-14 Buffs seem to play best when they’re flying up and down the court.
As a center, Rhone said he sees rebounding as his primary responsibility to the team.
“Rebounds really do win games,” Rhone said. He added that rebounding comes down to a combination of “boxing out and making sure I get my man boxed out so everybody has a fair chance at getting the rebound.”
The Buffs still have two months left of basketball season, and Rhone said this senior year hasn’t yet felt like it’s flying by. But once it’s over, Rhone said he’ll most miss his teammates.
“It’s been a privilege to be able to play basketball and be around all these people,” Rhone said.
Rhone said he’s also run track and field for McAlester in the past, competing in the 400- and 800-meter dash. He said that assuming McAlester fields a track team in the spring — McAlester athletic secretary Mary Martin confirmed it would — he’ll most likely run again this spring.