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Kingfisher Yellow Jackets Boys Basketball Preview – Presented by NBC Bank


Coach: Jared Reese 

21-22 Record 28-1 

Ninety seconds. Just a blink of an eye in a basketball game. That’s all it took for Kingfisher to seize control of the Class 4A state championship and take home its third straight gold ball. Victory Christian had led most of the game but had their title hopes snuffed out by a series of steals and threes. This was much different than the soul-crushing defense played by Division-I studs Bijan Cortes and Matthew Stone in 2021, this was a baby-faced team of juniors that soaked up the defensive culture created by coach Jared Reese and his staff. State tournament MVP Chase Davis has graduated but the remaining starters and other contributors return to action. Xavier Ridenour returns as the leading scorer of a balanced attack at 14 points per game with Caden Kitchens, Maddox Mecklenburg and Cash Slezickey all back as starters. Drake Friesen, Jud Birdwell and Jax Sternberger saw lots of playing time a year ago, giving Kingfisher plenty of depth and experience for a run at four in a row. How have the Jackets been so good? Plain and simple, defense. In the last nine state tournament games, Kingfisher has allowed only one team to reach the 40-point mark, that was Heritage Hall in the 2021 championship game and that team had current Creighton Blue Jays stud Trey Alexander.

In 29 games total last season, only two teams hit the 50-point mark against the Yellowjackets’ sweltering defense. You might think head coach Jared Reese is living vicariously through his squad. Reese moves up and down the sidelines channeling intensity to his team and toward an occasional official. Assistant Chris Combs and Danny Green are much calmer and collected on the bench, almost mad scientist-like. Reese took over the head coaching position in the spring of 2013, coming from Blackwell where he shined as a player. Combs had been at Kingfisher since 1999 and joined Reese’s staff in 2015, Green came along two years later in 2017. Since the three of them have been together, Kingfisher is an incredible 135-7. What makes Kingfisher so good on defense? Reese has a humble, simple answer. “Consistency in practice routine and building on years and years of principles, but most importantly we have an effort level that is incredibly high.” And how is that effort gleaned? “We never settle in practice if the effort isn’t there. We will let them know, if it isn’t up to Kingfisher standards” Class 4A looks super tough again this season. OCS and Community Christian have bumped into the Class after making the state tournament in Class 3A a year ago. The Jackets have also been invited to the prestigious Tournament of Champions where they will challenge some of the top competition in all classifications. Kingfisher is the pre-season choice to cut down the nets at the Big House in March. 

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