McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Opinion

January 26, 2014

Final observations from the Pitt 8

McALESTER — The 99th Annual Pitt 8 Tournament wrapped up Saturday at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester.

Here are a few observations leftover from an immensely exciting six days of basketball.

All hail Haileyville:

Kiowa probably had the best tournament of any of the eight Pitt 8 schools, the Cowgirls and Cowboys going a combined 5-1 and finishing first and third, respectively. But considering Kiowa’s teams held top-three seeds in the tournament and were both ranked statewide in Class A, Kiowa’s performance isn’t exactly unexpected.

The success of Haileyville’s basketball teams? No one could’ve predicted that, making Haileyville basketball the breakout program of the tournament.

Haileyville’s teams went a combined 1-4 in the 2013 tournament, their one win being a consolation semifinal victory by the Warriors. Haileyville went 4-2 in 2014, the Lady Warriors winning a consolation semifinal and the Warriors winning it all.

The Warriors were seeded sixth and knocked off the top three seeds in the tournament. While in previous games Haileyville center Bryer Stites struggled to use his immense size to his advantage, in the Pitt 8 Tournament he regularly got himself squared up with the basket, then bounced the ball easily off the backboard and in.

Standing approximately 6-foot-9 and weighing upwards of 300 pounds, Stites gives the Warriors a post presence too big for almost any team in Class A to guard. With solid ball-handler and outside-shooter Tristan Tiger and high-post forward Jason Mayo, If Stites can continue getting himself positioned correctly when he shoots, the Warriors could conceivably beat anyone they play.

The seventh-seeded Lady Warriors, meanwhile, lost to Pittsburg in the closest first-round game — 14 points — in the girls’ tournament, then upset sixth-seed Crowder in the consolation semifinals. The Lady Warriors have already more than doubled their total number of wins last season.

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