It was a season of improvement for the Ardmore girls basketball program in 2009-10. The Tigers challenge now is to maintain that step up.

It was a season of improvement for the Ardmore girls basketball program in 2009-10. The Tigers challenge now is to maintain that step up.

It won’t be easy. Aside from three contributors from last year, the Tigers are a team of fresh faces. No starters return from Ardmore’s 8-16 squad, which lost All-Ardmoreite guard TaGayla Lee, top rebounder Jordane Grant and senior starters Rebekah Williams, Eryn Day and Shara McBroom.

Ardmore starts its season against defending Class 5A champion McAlester tonight at Ardmore High School. It’s an early test in a rebuilding season.

“We’ve made progress so far,” coach Harold Brown said Monday. “We’ve made steps toward improving, especially in changing the attitude and mentality of what the girls think they can do.”

Brown is another somewhat new face. The middle school athletic director takes over for Matthew Madole, who stepped down after three seasons and a 22-48 record. But Brown is familiar with the program, as he coached ninth-grade boys basketball for four years.

Brown has a talented trio of returnees to work with. At 5-foot-3, senior guard Marquitta Oliver (4 points per game, 2 rebounds per game in 2009-10) is an adept ballhander and had streaks as the best 3-point shooter for Ardmore last season. Running alongside her are 5-7 junior guard/forward Gabrielle Agers (5 ppg, 4 rpg, 1 spg, 1 apg) and 5-5 junior guard Kimiko Fritts (3 ppg, 2 apg, 1 rpg), who were each integral players off the bench last season.

Oliver said despite tons of turnover in the lineup, the biggest change has been mental for the Tigers.

“It’s more than just our play on the court, we have more heart,” she said. “We’ve build a lot of team chemistry instead of trying to figure it out on the run like last year.”

In preseason, the Tigers got a good look at the future in several scrimmages, including the South Central Oklahoma Girls Basketball Showcase at Ardmore.

That’s where Brown said the Tigers made their biggest steps, especially in jumping out to a lead against Plainview with stifling defensive pressure.

Chalk that up to a new workout regimen for the Tigers, who are lifting weights and conditioning at 6:30 a.m. Change has taken place on and off the court.

“After our first scrimmage of the season, it kind of woke us up,” Brown said. “It showed us how much we needed to turn up the intensity.

“After the scrimmage against Plainview, we got more confidence. The girls liked the intensity and excitement they played with.”

Fritts and Agers also said the chemistry and conditioning is better than the previous year, even though the lineup is less experienced. Brown is expecting 5-7 senior Lenee Brown and 5-9 sophomore Savannah Pfau to fill the other starting spots in the frontcourt.

The transition has been mighty, but the Tigers seem to be enjoying the challenge.
Challenge is one of two words Brown used to describe the season ahead. The other word was change. Oliver thinks both will be for the better.

“By the time we come around to regionals, we’ll be back to where we were last year,” she said.

Erik K. Horne


Ardmore Girls

  Head coach: Harold Brown (first season)
  Record in 2009-10: 8-16, Class 5A area tournament
  First game: Tonight vs. McAlester, 6:30 p.m.
Returning starters: none