As the final buzzer sounded at the 57th annual Tournament of Champions high school boy’s basketball tournament at the BOK Center in Tulsa, reality set in on what the Dale Pirates had just accomplished.
The Pirates, the defending 2A state champion, knocked off 6A Tulsa Union (54-39), 4A #2 Crossings Christian (70-55) and 5A #2 Tulsa Memorial (59-52) in the title game to win the prestigious event. They’re the smallest school to win the tournament since 1978 and the first 2A team to win since 1973.
“It’s awesome,” said Dale head coach Jeff Edmonson. “I’ve had a lot of small school coaches reach out and congratulate us. It’s pretty cool being on a big stage like that and showing everybody how good these guys are.”
The Pirates, 14-0, were led by 6-3 junior guard Dayton Forsythe, who averaged 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the three games en route to earning Tournament MVP honors. The sharpshooter pumped in 34 points and had 10 rebounds and five assists in the title game.
“I could talk all day about Dayton Forsythe,” said Edmonson. “He’s so good. He’s such a good teammate. He makes everyone better. He’s an accurate passer, a great defender, and a great rebounder. He can shoot the three and score at all levels.”
“We’ve known all along how good Dayton is,” claimed Edmonson. “I think being on that big stage in Tulsa and playing against the type of teams we did showed everyone how good he is. He’s finally getting some of the recognition that he deserves. He’s worked hard for this.”
Dale is not a one-man team, however. The Pirates are a close-knit team with several key contributors.
“Everybody knows about Dayton and people may say we’re a one-man team, but you can’t win the Tournament of Champions with just one guy,” stated Edmonson. “They’re all so good. There’s Easton Edmonson, Treyden Chambers, Deken Jones, Levi Kelly and Dayton’s little brother, Denton Forsythe.”
“Everyone knows their role,” added Edmonson, who was missing starter Jett Higdon during the TOC due to an injury. “They’re all good defenders. They all pass the ball well. They all shoot it well. If you put two guys on Dayton, he’s going to find the open guy and the open guy is going to make a play. They’re just a really good team. I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
The next challenge for the Pirates will be finding a way to keep their edge and stay motivated the rest of the regular season until it’s time to defend their state title.
“We’ve said it all year long, that we want to come back and prove that it wasn’t a fluke,” said Edmonson on returning to the state tournament. “That’s a big goal. This group, there’s a lot of sophomores and juniors. They’ve got big plans and big goals for this year still to come.”
“You would think they lost in the state championship last year the way they’ve been working so hard,” added Edmonson. “They’re all trying to get better and be the best players they can be.”