Special to The Sun
The path to the Class 6A boys state basketball title has run through Edmond Memorial the last two years. And with another talented squad on tap, the Bulldogs figure to be title contenders again this season.
“Now we’ve got to a level as a program where our expectations are pretty high every year,” head coach Shane Cowherd said. “That’s because of our kids and their hard work. We expect a lot of them, and they expect a lot out of themselves. And I think we’re equipped to have another strong run this year.”
Memorial lost to Tulsa Union in the state championship last year after winning the title in 2011.
The Bulldogs are again loaded with talented players. The most impressive is senior guard Jordan Woodard, who signed with the University of Oklahoma. He averaged 13.1 points, 4.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game last year.
“Jordan is the best guard in the state,” Cowherd said. “He carries a lot of attention from other teams and he’s talented enough to carry that burden. We go as Jordan goes. He’s a very talented young man and we’ll have a chance to compete for a state championship because of what he brings to the table as a player and leader of our program.”
Senior guard Aaron Young will be back in the lineup after battling injuries last year.
“He’s finally healthy and playing at a very high level and I think he’s going to be a wild card in our push this season,” Cowherd said. “He’s a very talented two guard and has a lot of experience playing with Jordan during their younger days. They play very well together.”
The Bulldogs roster will also feature a couple of new additions. Forward Shaquille Morris, who transferred from Santa Fe, will give the Bulldogs a strong inside force. The Wichita State signee averaged 13 points and 5.6 rebounds last year with the Wolves.
“He’s a very talented and explosive big man who gives us an element that we have not had,” Cowherd said. “He’s very hungry to continue to get better.”
Tyler Holcomb, who moved in from Stillwater, is a versatile 6-foot-5 swingman.
“He gives us some more size and strength on the interior, but also the ability to shoot the basketball,” Cowherd said.
Senior Sam Kreutzer and Jacob Essman, a 6-foot-6 junior, will contribute off the bench.
While the Bulldogs have plenty of offensive firepower, Cowherd said their defense will be ever more important.
“I think it comes down to how we defend,” he said. “We’re a defense oriented team and if we can do what we need to do there, then I like our chances.”
Midwest City figures to be one of the Bulldogs’ biggest competitors both in the Mid-State Conference and the state. Del City and Westmoore will also be solid teams.
Along with the Edmond Open Tournament, Memorial will also compete in the Deer Creek Bruce Gray Invitational.
Memorial opens the year Tuesday night at Moore. They host Westmoore Dec. 4 in their home opener.