If someone had sat down in November and tried to script the Western Oklahoma State mens' basketball season, they would have failed miserably. It would have been impossible to even conceive that they would still be in a position they are in, with the record they have.
Heading into Thursday's road contest at Northern Enid, the Pioneers actually have a postseason birth within reach. If they defeat the Jets, WOSC will automatically be in the playoffs.
That is correct. With a 2-5 record in the Bi-State Conference, the Pioneers are one win away from securing a spot in the regional tournament.
"Through all that we have been through this season, we still have a shot," said WOSC coach Jerry Kassin.
The odds look pretty good for Western. When the two teams met back on Feb. 7, WOSC won 75-65. It was the team's first conference victory of the season.
Also, the Jets are one of the few teams in the conference that Western has a height advantage. Enid's tallest player is Colby Vass at 6-foot-8. Rashad Moss and J.C. Shivers are both 6-7.
While no one on the Pioneers' squad is as tall is Vass, Eddy Butler, Jonaris Blue, Joe Dickens and Eric Lovelace all stand at 6-7. And even though Jahmar Thorpe is 6-6, he plays around the rim as if he were 7-foot.
Yet, this game will not be decided upon who is the tallest, the quickest or even which team is the best. This contest will come down to who really wants to continue their season past March 3.
All season long, WOSC fans have waited for the Pioneers to put together a consistent game. To put aside the turnovers that have plagued them and the shooting slumps that haunt them late in games. If there is anytime to do this, tonight is it.
It's all on the line tonight for Western. If they lose, they host Murray State next Thursday not knowing what, if anything, they have to do to get into the postseason.
For the Pioneers, tonight they can decide their own fate. That is all any athlete can ask for.
Reach Michael Kinney at firstname.lastname@example.org