After reaching the Class 6A state tournament last March for the first time in six years, Owasso’s boys basketball team is looking to build on that success.
Owasso, which went 18-4 last season, views last year as a springboard.
“Those guys who graduated last year worked extremely hard and a lot of the guys who didn’t get to play last year saw what it took from a work ethic to have the success they did,” Owasso coach Brian Montonati said last month at the Tulsa World Photo Day.
Owasso graduated All-World finalist Kyler Mann, but among the returnees is 6-7 senior forward Caden Fry, who averaged 14 points and eight rebounds. He was an all-tournament selection at the Skiatook Invitational and Port City Classic — both won by Owasso.
“Definitely Caden coming back is an added bonus,” said Montonati, who is starting his fifth season as the Rams’ head coach. “He is a true post presence. He’s just a beast who works and plays extremely hard. He sets the tone for us in practice. The harder he practices, the guys follow along.”
Fry’s recruiting stock has risen since last season and he has offers from Rogers State, Cameron, Metro State, Arkansas Tech, Missouri Southern, Oklahoma Christian and East Central.
“I had a really good summer,” Fry said. “I’m excited for the future.”
And that includes his final high school season before heading to college.
“We’re going to be pretty good,” Fry said. “We’re always going to be hard-nosed under coach Montonati. Defense first with Owasso. We want to make sure every time we step on the court we’re the toughest team out there.”
EJ Lewis, a 5-11 junior guard who averaged 9 points last season, is another returning starter.
Caleb Leslie and Price Pennignton are players to watch.
“I think Caleb’s going to have a breakout senior year,” Montonati said. “He had a tremendous summer on the AAU circuit. He will remind you a little bit of Seth Pomeroy (the Tulsa World’s 2019 Mr. Outside winner from Owasso). He’s got range from all over the court. He’s going to have to play well for us.
“Price is a senior who is fighting for a starting spot. He’s a kid who plays extremely hard. He will be a junkyard dog-type of kid who will do a little bit of everything — have to rebound, have to score.”
Two other seniors to watch are Zane Harbaugh and Kole Manuel.
“They are very physical and got a lot stronger in the weight room,” Montonati said.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back that have been in our program for the last three years. Those guys know how to practice, know a lot of our stuff already, Our practices have been really smooth and we have been able to get a lot of stuff done.”
The Rams are scheduled to start the season on Dec. 7 at Sand Springs and then go to the Norman tournament before their home opener Dec. 14 against Sapulpa. After a nearly two-week break, Owasso will play in the prestigious Tournament of Champions from Dec. 27-29 at the BOK Center.
“They’re a fun group to be around and coach,” Montonati said. “A lot of these guys have paid their dues every day to get the opportunity to play this year. I’m excited for them and they’re excited. We’re just ready to rock and roll.”