The Cowgirls are on a mission.
After making an appearance at the Class A State Tournament last season, Kiowa begins its journey to try to return to the Big House — this time as a member of Class B.
But the road will be bumpier than usual, as all teams across Oklahoma face the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Kiowa coach James Pannell said it’s been a hurdle they’ve had to face after undergoing multiple quarantine periods as a team.
“You try to stay in the moment, so you take care of step by step,” he said. “But at the same time, you keep that big goal in the back of your mind."
As an example, the Cowgirls had only just emerged from their fourth quarantine period when it came time to participate in the Pitt 8 Conference Tournament. The Cowgirls battled through a gauntlet of competition to take the conference crown, but Pannell said there was still a lot of work to be done.
“They really haven’t reached the goal they’re after yet,” Pannell said. “And I think they know that, and that’s the sign of a mature group.”
The Cowgirls will automatically qualify for the regional tournament after receiving a bye in the opening round of district play. They will face off against Battiest on Saturday for the district crown, and determine which side of the bracket they enter in the next round.
But even as they look forward at the opportunity to still be playing in March, Pannell said it’s important they still stay focused on the task at hand and come ready to play in each round.
“You take it one step at a time, but the motivation is the big goal,” he said. “We want to go back to the state tournament, we want to have a chance to make an impact there this year. And that’s been the goal.”
The OSSAA has also set its postseason COVID health and safety protocols and procedures. Those measures include masks being required for all coaches, spectators, and any participants not actively involved in the contest.
Capacity will also be set to 50% in all venues, and social distancing will be required as well. Facilities will be cleaned between each contest and session, unless the same two schools are participating in the next contest.
If, at any point in the playoffs, a team who has qualified for the next round becomes unable to participate due to COVID, that team’s opponent will automatically advance to the next round.
Here are the area girls Class A-B district tournament games and times:
DISTRICT 6 AT PITTSBURG
G1: Pittsburg, bye
G2: Graham-Dustin vs. Indianola, 6 p.m.
G3: Pittsburg vs. G2 Winner, 6 p.m. (both teams advance to regionals)
DISTRICT 5 AT KIOWA
Kiowa vs. Battiest, 6 p.m. (both teams advance to regionals)
DISTRICT 2 AT ALLEN
G1: Allen, bye
G2: Quinton vs. Haileyville, 6 p.m.
G3: Allen vs. G2 Winnner, 6 p.m. (both teams advance to regionals)
DISTRICT 5 AT CROWDER
G1: Crowder, bye
G2: Clayton vs. Rattan, 6 p.m.
G3: Crowder vs. G2 Winner, 6 p.m. (both teams advance to regionals)
DISTRICT 6 AT STUART
Stuart vs. Rock Creek, 6 p.m. (both teams advance to regionals)
Contact Derek Hatridge at email@example.com.