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Yellowjackets A Contender In 6A Hoops

Ja’Mon Valentine (1) slams it home against Putnam City, Photo Courtesy: Choctaw Public Schools and Choctaw Alumni Association.

Choctaw basketball coach Jermaine Simpson understands the importance of teams peaking at the end of the season.

“We don’t want to be peaking in December,” said Simpson.

Simpson and the Yellowjackets have raced out to an impressive 11-2 start and are currently ranked fifth in Class 6A according to OSSAArankings.com.

Due to Choctaw advancing to the state championship in football, Simpson didn’t have complete access to his roster until after the season began.

“We got them Monday before our second game for one practice,” recalled Simpson of his football players. “It’s taken probably until now to get everyone conditioned and ready and understanding what we’re doing.”

Choctaw currently starts one senior and four juniors. Senior point guard Cam Hunt is joined by 6-2 guard Ja’Mon Valentine, three-point specialist Camden Hyman, versatile wing Isaiah Taylor and Will Smith patrols the paint.

Watch the Ford Game of the Week: 2023 Shawnee Invitational Girls and boys Championships – Saturday, Jan. 21 starting at 7pm CT on YurView Oklahoma (Cox channel 3) and a free live stream

Choctaw Yellowjackets
The Choctaw Yellowjackets are 11-2 and ranked fifth in Class 6A, Photo Courtesy: Choctaw Public Schools and Choctaw Alumni Association.

The Yellowjackets proved themselves to be a strong contender in Class 6A after a solid showing at the Bishop McGuinness Classic earlier this month. This week, they’ll face another stiff test when they compete in the Shawnee Invitational. The tournament provides the Yellowjackets an opportunity to play some teams from the east side of the state, including a potential championship meeting with top-ranked Broken Arrow.

YurView will televise the championship games of the Shawnee Invitational Saturday night. The girls game tips off at 7 pm, and the boys game at 8:30 pm on YurView Oklahoma (Cox Channel 3). This Ford Game of the Week will also be streamed for FREE online.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” claimed Simpson, who’s in his fifth year as head coach of the Yellowjackets. “Broken Arrow, we’ve played them in the championship of this tournament the last two years. We won it two years ago, and they won it last year. It’s been a really good thing to be able to see them. They’re big, they’re long and they’re athletic. They’ve got Division I and Division II guys on their roster.”

Simpson is also looking forward to facing teams that play at a different pace than teams they typically face.

“It’s different,” admitted Simpson. “Our conference, it’s very fast, with PC West, PC North, PCO, Midwest City. They like to get up and down and spread the floor. It’s good that we’ll see some of these other teams that kind of slow it down.”

Junior Isaiah Taylor (24) drives to the hoop in a recent game against Putnam City, Photo Courtesy: Choctaw Public Schools and Choctaw Alumni Association.

“We have to be able to slow the ball down and play half-court sets,” added Simpson. “We have to understand our spacing and the things that we can do. That’s our focus.”

With regional tournaments just a month away, Choctaw has the pieces to make a serious run at a state championship in March.

“We just have to trust in each other,” stated Simpson. “That’s something that we preach on every day. Just understanding that any guy can score on any day. It allows them to just play basketball and make adjustments. Everybody is going to have an off day.”

“We have the kids here to do it, we just have to put it all together at the right time.