HS BASKETBALL: Buffs coach: We're trying to get this gold

ADRIAN O'HANLON III | Staff photoWill Holiman says the McAlester boys basketball team will be fun to watch in his first year as coach.

Will Holiman wants his alma mater to excel on the court.

He graduated from McAlester High School in 1998 before going on to coach Lakewood Christian to state titles and being hired this year at his alma mater as the boys basketball coach. Holiman said he wants McAlester to compete for a spot at the state tournament this year and part of the winning equation will be team chemistry.

“That’s what we’re trying to do is making it one big family and one big team and try to get this gold,” Holiman said.

McAlester finished 4-19 last year when Holiman’s Lakewood Christian team won the Class 2A Heartland Christian Athletic Association state championship after finishing each of the previous two seasons as the state runners-up. The Lions finished with a 20-4 record and dominated throughout the state tournament.

The Buffs lost Zach Lerblance to graduation after he averaged 24.9 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds last season on his way to being named the McAlester News-Capital All-Area Offensive MVP. McAlester also lost Hayden Souther (10.1 points, 3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals per game) and Jacob Lane (9.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals per game) to graduation from last year after both received all-area honorable mention.

But McAlester gained Holiman’s son, Adante, who had 25.3 points, six assists, four steals and three rebounds per game last year and was named the all-area MVP. The coach said he is excited to have his son playing at his alma mater after succeeding at Lakewood Christian.

“We’re just excited about coming over and showing people that he can play,” Holiman said.

Holiman said he will depend on Derek Hearod to play a big role, as well as Trey Briggs and Avion Simon to use their size in the paint.

The coach added there will be several younger and some inexperienced players in the rotation as McAlester will run a lot in the uptempo system, but he believes they can excel.

Holiman said players are adjusting well to the new system and coaching staff, moving to more uptempo and aggressive styles on both ends of the court.

“We’re going to be getting up the court and we’re going to be exciting to watch,” Holiman said.

McAlester opens the season Dec. 3 at home against Hugo before heading to the Tahlequah tournament Dec. 12-14. The Buffs plat at Broken Bow Dec. 17, at Bishop Kelley Dec. 20, and at the Shrine Tournament Jan. 9-11.

The Buffs return home Jan. 14 against Bishop Kelley before another stint on the road — Jan. 17 at Durant, Jan. 21 at Fort Gibson, Jan. 23-25 at Fort Gibson tournament.

McAlester plays four in-a-row at home Jan. 28 against Ada, Jan. 31 against Broken Bow, Feb. 4 against Durant and Feb. 7 against Ardmore — which will include an induction ceremony for the McAlester Athletics Hall of Fame.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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