During the final weekend of December, while most teams started to iron out lineups and gather ideas for the final few weeks of the regular season, the Mustang Broncos found themselves adapting to unforeseen circumstances.
Two spots in the team’s rotation suddenly became vacant as Scott Hodges’ squad prepared for the Bank 7 Mustang Holiday Classic. Some teams might have used the situation as an excuse, however the Broncos saw an opportunity.
Now, Mustang heads down the final stretch of the 2023-24 campaign having won nine of its last 12 games, including championship runs in the Holiday Classic and the 2024 Shawnee tournament, and is positioned to possibly finish second in 6A District 1.
The Broncos, who defeated Putnam City North for a third time this season, 61-58 last Friday, could be primed for a deep playoff run thanks in part to their ability to adjust over Christmas break.
After losing two key players, the team has not only rallied around the tremendous play of standout guards Roman Miller (Jr.) and Tyson Pogi (Fr.), but also around excellent depth and valuable production throughout the lineup.
While Miller and Pogi have garnered Tournament MVP and All-Tournament Team awards, the Broncos have also thrived on the play of sophomore twins Jaden and Jaytee Johnson, big men Cole Clipson (Sr.) and Michael Vincent (So.), swingman Jeriah Fleeton (Sr.), and freshman Jayden Reyes.
Especially Fleeton and Reyes, who are now excelling in their expanded roles.
Size, depth, scoring, three-point shooting, athletic ability. It’s all coming together with just over two weeks left in the regular season.
“When you have as many football guys as we have, it takes a little time to mesh,” Hodges said. “We lost a couple of guys and had to throw some new guys in there and the way the team has adapted has been incredible.
“I love their mentality right now because it’s a group of that truly cares about winning and doing what’s best for the team. We can talk about Roman and Tyson and everything they’ve done, which has been awesome, but the other guys are carrying us as well.”
Hodges was quick to point out the multitude of ways players have stepped up during the team’s recent hot streak.
“Jaden taking on the other team’s best player every night defensively. Jaytee hitting big shot after big shot. Cole grabbing 13 boards against Choctaw. Mike playing tough minutes and playing really well.
“We never even expected Jeriah or Jayden to play big roles, but here they are, and they’ve really stepped up and have been incredible for us.”
The Johnson twins are wreaking havoc on opposing guards much like they do against cornerbacks in the fall.
Jaden Johnson is averaging close to nine points, three rebounds, and three assists per game alongside Miller and Pogi in the backcourt. Jaytee, who is now up to 13 games after nursing a collarbone injury to start the season, is averaging just under five points, two rebounds, and two assists.
Mustang coaching staff watches on as the Broncos execute a play on the opposite end during a game earlier this season at the Mustang Event Center. The Broncos have just four games remaining in the regular season. (Photo by Ron Lane / Lane Images)
Meanwhile, Clipson and Vincent are holding down the front court.
Clipson is averaging over six points and five rebounds per game along with just under two blocks. Vincent averages just under four points and three boards.
Fleeton and Reyes have been a pleasant surprise for Hodges and his staff. Both players are combining to average close to six rebounds, two assists, and two steals in about 10 minutes per.
MILLER & POGI
If you combine Mustang’s depth and athletic ability with the one-two punch of Miller and Pogi, then you have a state tournament contender.
Miller is coming into his own both on and off the court. He leads the team at 21 points per game along with seven rebounds and two assists and his presence is much stronger in the locker room.
After learning from the likes of Jacobe Johnson and Keegan Bass as a sophomore, Miller has now stepped into more of a leadership role. His play is dynamic, but his attitude speaks volumes.
Tyson Pogi (Fr.) attempts a three-pointer during a game earlier this season at the Mustang Event Center. Pogi is averaging over 16 points and four assists per game. (Photo by Ron Lane / Lane Images)
“He has elevated his game in so many ways that he’s virtually unstoppable when he wants to be,” Hodges said of Miller, who has two tournament MVPs on his shelf from the Bank 7 Mustang Holiday Classic and the Shawnee Tournament.
“But the thing that takes him and Tyson to the next level is being unselfish teammates. They play the game in a way that makes things easier on their teammates and us as coaches. We are lucky to have them.”
Pogi is up to 16 points per game with nearly four assists. He takes over when needed and has an unmatched demeanor for a 6A freshman point guard.
He also has a lighting shot – tying the school record with eight three-pointers in a game earlier this season before breaking it with nine makes against Capitol Hill a few weeks later.
Hodges was especially impressed with Pogi’s All-Tournament performance in Shawnee.
“He was an incredible floor general and facilitator that weekend,” he said. “He controlled the tempo in each game and seemed to take it to a new level. We all know he can score and shoot, but he was able to command the game all weekend. He just keeps getting better each time out.”
FINAL FOUR GAMES WILL BE A TEST
The Broncos end the regular season with a brutal stretch against three of the top teams in Class 6A.
They host the defending state champion and current District 1 leading Edmond North Huskies (13-2, 8-0) on Friday before hitting the road to take on Deer Creek (15-4, 7-3) on Feb. 6. The team’s final home game is against Moore (12-5, 6-4) on Feb. 9 before the Broncos close out the slate at Norman North (8-9, 2-6) on Feb. 13.
“Like the saying goes, you have to approach it one game at a time,” Hodges noted when rattling off the team’s final games. “We preach a 0-0 mentality meaning we go into each game thinking we have a 0-0 record.
“… Our district is tough, man. Edmond North, Piedmont, Deer Creek, Moore, North… There are no give-me games. Depending on how things go, there could be a lot of shakeup as far as playoff standings.”
Edmond North has the district title all but locked up with two games against Capitol Hill remaining. Barring even more unforeseen circumstances, the Broncos, Deer Creek, Piedmont, and Moore are all fighting for second place with just one game of separation in the standings.
A lot can happen in the final two weeks. Regional tournaments are set to begin Feb. 20 with seeding and site placement still up in the air.