McALESTER — Though McAlester hasn’t yet said goodbye to its fall football season, the weather has shifted decidedly towards winter. And with winter comes a shift inside for McAlester athletics.
The Buffaloes begin their basketball season Tuesday at home against Hugo at Bob Brumley Gymnasium. Last year’s Hugo Buffaloes qualified for the 3A state tournament.
“We have a young, athletic group that I feel like by the end of the season, they’re going to have a chance to be pretty good,” Buffs coach Chris Zike said on Nov. 21. “I think they’re going to have a chance to be really good.
“We’re lifting this year, and we haven’t done (that) in the past. I feel like it’s made a difference in the guys’ mindsets.”
The 2012-13 Buffaloes went 6-17, their postseason ending after just one game with a loss at Bishop Kelley in February. Several starters return from last year’s team, including sophomore guard Jalen Erving, one of the team’s best scorers.
“He does a good job getting to the basket,” Zike said of Erving.
“He shoots the ball well, too.”
A combination point guard and shooting guard, Erving is among five guards vying for a starting spot. Todd Dawkins didn’t become a starter until late last season, but he quickly stepped into the role, displaying a strong 3-point shot mixed with the height necessary to get to the basket.
Zike said that like Erving, Dawkins has benefited from the new weight-room program, and the added strength has led to added confidence on the court.
“Any of our guards are going to be able to bring the basketball up the court,” Zike said. “Now, our point guard, whoever that may, will probably have it in his hands more than any of the others.
“It’s actually a pretty athletic bunch.”