Scanning the boy’s high school basketball rankings after the first month of the season reveals many of the same traditional powers that can always be found near the top of the standings.
One of the pleasant surprises so far in Class 6A, however, has been the Bixby Spartans, who have won 10 of their first 11 games and are currently ranked ninth in the state. Three years ago, they won just three games all season.
The Spartans are getting it done on the offensive end. They’ve scored more than 90 points three times already this season.
“I’m more defensive minded and it seems this year our offense has really taken off, but we have yet to find a defensive groove,” claimed Bixby head coach Sam Fairchild, who’s in his second season with the Spartans. “We had a lot of kids put in some individual time over the summer to improve their game. Our kids are playing well.”
Leading the way for the Spartans are 6-4 senior forward Xavier Glenn and 6-4 sophomore guard Parker Friedrichsen. Glenn is averaging more than 20 points per game and Friedrichsen is tallying nearly 30 points per contest.
“Parker has always been a fantastic shooter, but he’s also added the ability to get to the rim,” continued Fairchild. “He grew a little bit over the summer and got quite a big stronger. His game is starting to come full circle and not just be a spot-up shooter.”
One of the keys to Bixby’s hot start has been the ability to win close games. The Spartans are 3-0 in one-possession games.
“We’ve had five or six games where we were behind in the fourth quarter, said Fairchild. “It’s been kind of amazing the way the kids have found a way to win. And different kids too. I like to use the term lucky, but I think we’re making our own breaks. We’re just making plays down the stretch that are enabling us to pull the close ones out.”
“When you’ve got good players, they kind of turn you into good coaches,” added Fairchild. “Most nights this year I’ve had the best athlete and the best player on the floor with Parker and Xavier and that gives you a real good opportunity to win close games.”
The Spartans received another boost when a few football players became available after winning a state championship in December. This includes sophomore Luke Hasz, who has already muscled his way into the starting lineup.
“He gives us that inside presence that we really didn’t have,” stated Fairchild, who’s in his 30th year of coaching high school basketball. “He’s 6-4, 225 pounds and a Division I football kid, so he’s big, strong and physical.”
“He’s played in five games and fouled out of three of them,” added Fairchild laughing. “He’s still getting in basketball shape. He’s kind of like a bull in a china cabinet, but he’s fantastic on the boards and a man-child around the bucket. He gives us that inside-outside punch that we were missing.”
“A lot of coaches won’t play football kids until they’ve had four or five practices, but we’re going to throw the best athletes we have at you,” continued Fairchild. “If you’re going to play us, you’re going to see our best athletes.”
After winning only three games a couple of seasons ago, the Spartans are proving they’ve turned things around and they’re going to be a team to be reckoned win come playoff time.
“We’re a long way from peaking as a team,” remarked Fairchild. “We haven’t had a night yet where we felt all five guys gave us the best that they have. We’re hoping by playoff time that we’ll have everybody gelling and be at the peak of our game.”
“This group believes in themselves, that’s for sure.”