See what a good football season can do for a school.

See what a good football season can do for a school.

After finishing 13-1 and one win shy of a Class B state championship on the gridiron, Thackerville is three wins away from a state tournament appearance in basketball, utilizing many of the same players that scored their way to eight-man football fame this fall.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum going into this game,” Thackerville coach Cody McCage said on Wednesday.

Thackerville will face Stuart (21-7) today at 3 in McAlester. The Hornets have won five of their past six games, all with only two seniors on their roster.

“From what I see (on film), we match up pretty well with them,” McCage said. “They’re quick, have pretty good guards and are young. They are gonna be a really good team the next couple of years.”

Because of the deep playoff run in football, Thackerville (17-6) got a late start to its basketball season. The Wildcats postponed their first two weeks of scheduled games. When football ended on Dec. 6, Thackerville had one practice before its Dec. 9 opener against Coleman.

Two of Thackerville’s six losses came in the first three games of the season.

“We’d definitely have over 20 wins if not for football,” McCage said. “I think we’d have another 4-5 wins, then you’re very easily looking at a 21-2, 20-3 record.”

After settling in, the Wildcats have taken their football success and continued it on the hardwood. Five of the Wildcats’ six senior contributors were members of the football team. All five of Thackerville’s starters are seniors, including Hunter McCage (17 points per game), Tague Hinkley, who scored 33 points for the Cats in their regional finale against Dustin and Nathan Jones, who didn’t play football for the Wildcats, but is arguably the team’s best defender.

“Tague and Hunter have been the most consistent night in and night out,” McCage said. “We can go inside to Hunter every night. Nathan Jones has been really good for us, too. He’s got big, long arms and is a shutdown defender.”

McCage, who also coaches the football team, attributes much of the basketball team’s success to his seniors’ success in football this fall. McCage will be the first to admit the Wildcats’ lack of depth, but his seniors are providing a renaissance for Thackerville athletics this school year.

“Doing so well in football gave us confidence,” McCage said. “Having all these seniors good in every sport has carried over.

“We’re not the best shooting basketball team, but I think we’re playing extremely well. As far as being a head coach, this is definitely the best team I’ve had.

“I think we’re at the top of our game.”

Erik K. Horne