Booker T. Washington boys basketball coach Conley Phipps II will have a homecoming of sorts during the 53rd Tournament of Champions that runs Wednesday through Friday at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center.
The Hornets’ quarterfinal against Ringwood at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday will be Phipps’ first game back at ORU since he was a Golden Eagles assistant on former head coach Scott Sutton’s staff from 1999-2014.
“It’s going to be neat for me,” Phipps said. “I have a lot of great memories there from working for Scott at ORU.
“And my dad coached in the first Tournament of Champions (when it was at Memorial) in 1966. I grew up watching a lot of great players in this tournament.”
Phipps also played in the tournament, scoring 102 points in three games for Cleveland in 1984. That effort led to him being inducted into the TofC’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
Phipps’ current school won the tournament in ’84, a year when the smallest school, Class B Stringtown, finished third with a pair of upsets that have helped give the TofC its unique appeal as the best small-school teams have a chance to play against top large-school competition.
Phipps, in his first season at Class 5A No. 4 Booker T. Washington (3-2), will be coaching a team with players who are also very familiar with the Mabee Center as they finished second in the 6A state tournament played there in March.
“It is a big deal to be playing in the Tournament of Champions,” Phipps said.
The BTW/Ringwood game has an interesting matchup as 6-foot-11 Ringwood senior Camden Patterson, who has several college offers, will compete against Washington’s 6-7 Boise State signee Jaycson Bereal Jr. They were teammates with Oklahoma Run PWP during the spring and summer.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play good competition,” Ringwood coach Nathan Pearson said. “Our goal is to get to the state tournament and this will help us do that, whether we go 3-0, 2-1, 1-2 or 0-3. Booker T. Washington is extremely talented.”
Class A Ringwood is in the tournament for the first time since 1969, while the Hornets are making their first appearance since 2012.
Both the boys’ and girls’ fields have three teams ranked No. 1 in their classifications. Top-ranked teams on the boys’ side are Memorial (5A), Kingston (3A) and Wright City (2A). On the girls’ side, top-ranked teams are Sand Springs (6A), Tahlequah (5A) and Seiling (A).
Two years ago, Seiling pulled off a huge upset in the quarterfinals against 5A East Central. Seiling also defeated 5A Claremore in the third-place game. Seiling will look for another upset when it faces 6A No. 5 Westmoore at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Each day, sessions start at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 for each four-game session with girls and boys game alternating.