By Tori Kitchens
As the end of January approaches, the athletes who play winter sports are gearing up for post season play.
The girls’ basketball program finished their season 14-7 going an impressive 5-0 in district play. “This is definitely one of the better seasons we have had in several years playing basketball,” senior point guard Kate Pickens noted. Pickens admits that there are some games the team should have won, however, the team has done a remarkable job playing as one. “When we play together ‘as a hand and not five fingers,’ as Coach Ringdahl likes to say, there is no telling what we can accomplish.”
Leading the team in both points and assists, Pickens intends to make the most of her final playoff run. “As long as we put our best foot forward and give it our best shot, I will be more than happy with the results of my last season,” Pickens acknowledged, “but if we have the opportunity to keep winning, I absolutely want to take advantage of it.”
The Lady Eagles are going into the post season off a senior night win at home against Eastside 32-27. The team begin their run with a bye and will play the winner of Countryside Christian and Redeemer Christian on Wednesday.
Oak Hall’s boys’ basketball team has had a very successful season. Finishing their regular season with one of the highest win percentages in program history, the team went 14-4 and 6-0 in district play. They have two more regular season games against Lafayette and Dixie County before beginning their post season run next week. “It truly means a lot to play together with my boys in the big moments and I just hope we can build up the chemistry to push us through this post season,” junior guard Ryan McKinney stated.
The records they broke and the successes they reached in the regular season has given the eagles a first-round bye in the post season. “I truly believe that we can make it far this year as this is the most united and connected team we’ve had in a while,” McKinney affirmed.
The team is expected to make a great run this post season. “I’m expecting us to at least make it to the district championship for sure,” McKinney continued, “but if we end up winning, which I think we are capable of, then I believe we can make a solid run at states this year if we compete at our full potential.”
After a difficult regular season, the girls’ soccer team enters the post season with nothing but positivity. “It’s been a challenging season, but we have grown a lot as a team and have persevered through a lot,” senior midfield Zahra Sims described.
The Lady Eagles opened their post season on Thursday, defeating St. Francis at Lafayette 4-1. “I think that that was one of the best games that we’ve played,” Sims added. “We had great communication, and it shows how far attitude and effort can go.”
The team will travel back to Lafayette on Monday to compete against the Lady Hornets in their home stadium. “I am looking forward to finishing out the season on a good note and leaving OHS soccer with a positive legacy,” Sims stated.
At the start of their season, the boys’ soccer program welcomed OHS faculty member Andy Westfall as their head coach. “While I always want a winning season and want to build a better program, my daily goals are more about effective training sessions,” Coach Westfall noted. The eagles’ training strong practices paid off as the team started off 6-0 and finished their regular season 9-4.
The boys will start their playoff run Tuesday against Lafayette. The eagles played the Hornets twice during the regular season and game up just short both times. Regardless, the team intends to make a significant showing this post season. “I think we are in a good place on all accounts, and I am proud of the effort the players have put in so far to put us in a good position to make it through District play,” Coach Westfall contended.
Traditional Competitive Cheerleading
For the first time in its 5-year history, the Competitive Cheerleading squad is competing in the Extra Large Non-Tumbling division. With 22 girls on the floor, most being rookies, the team has had to work even harder to fine tune and perfect their routine.
The eagles made an impressive showing at their regional competition at West Nassau in Callahan on January 14. The team received their highest raw score ever and qualified for the state semi-finals. “It’s been a challenging season because we are putting a harder routine on the floor than we have ever attempted before and over half of our team has never cheered competitively before,” head Coach Kelley Thorp admitted, “so there has been a big learning curve to overcome.”
Going into state competition, the team hopes to hit a zero-deduction routine in order to take a spot in the final round.
Gameday Competitive Cheerleading
Not only are the members of the cheer program preparing for state competition, but they are also working hard to prepare for Nationals!
With a smaller squad of 15, the team has been very successful. At their Universal Cheer Association (UCA) regional competition in the beginning of December, the eagles shocked everyone by placing second with a very high score at their first ever Gameday-styled competition. “It’s been a fun and rewarding season,” head coach Kelley Thorp recounted. “With a small team made up [of] predominately veteran cheerleaders, it has been fun to put together a routine in a genre of cheer we have never done before.”
The team will travel to Orlando next Thursday to compete at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.