Even though they’d been winning and winning since Jeremy Newsome‘s return, I still wasn’t sure if the Okolona Chieftains were for real. This was a team, after all, that started the season 1-6. And when I saw them play Aberdeen on Dec. 8 – pre-Newsome – I saw a poor-shooting, disjointed team that looked a lot better during pregame warmups than after tip-off.
I went back to Okolona tonight (Friday) and saw the Chieftains pick up a very impressive 72-67 win over Ingomar in a Region 2-1A game. That makes Okolona 10-9 overall, but more importantly 4-0 in division.
Newsome (10 points, 6 blocks) wasn’t even the biggest factor. Willie Grady (18 points) is obviously the glue of this team, and the senior showed it by taking over in the fourth period (10 points, eight at the line). David Gardner (19 points), a 6-4 freshman, is as promising a youngster as you’ll find in the area.
The Chieftains didn’t shoot that well – 34.3 percent – but the stat that jumped out at me was this one: 8 turnovers. They’d committed 24 in that loss to Aberdeen. And in the second half against Ingomar, they forced 11 turnovers after getting just four in the first half.
Myrtle is still the 1A measuring stick around here, but Ingomar beat the Hawks once, and Okolona could certainly give them a run. Here’s betting they will.