The next step in Jenks boys basketball’s postseason journey is going to be a tough one. On Friday the Trojans will meet with Union for the fourth time this season in the first round of the Area tournament. Jenks won the first two out of three meetings.

The first meeting saw the Trojans pull out a narrow 64-60 game at home. The two teams met again a week later in the championship round of the Jenks-Union Invitational Touranament where the Redskins were dismantled 65-40. Union got its revenge in the final game of the regular season as they went on to win 52-50.

They were three completely different types of games. One had Jenks winning a tight game, one a blow out, and one a close loss. The Trojans can only expect that experience better prepares them for this Friday’s test.

“It gave us the opportunity to work on three different types of situations against a really good basketball team and give us a chance to execute in three different types of games,” coach Clay Martin said. “In the postseason, hopefully that helps you.”

The Trojans and Redskins have seen more of each other than most teams get to see of a rival. Jenks and Union have familiarized themselves with one another throughout the three meetings. The added incentive of defeating a rival in the postseason is sure to bring an extra edge to the battle. There won’t be many secrets in the way either team plays.

“They’re going to know what we’re going to try to do and vice versa,” Martin said. “I think for us it’s, can we be true to our identity? Can we continue to shoot the ball well and rebound the ball well?

“I think when you try to get away from your team identity it’s never really worked out well when that happens. For us it’s just about, let’s continue to be really good at what we’re best at and not doubt that.”

Jenks knows where each Union player excels.

The Trojans will want to take away rebounds from Nehemiah Boykins, keep a firm grip on defense when guarding the elusive Micah Lovett, and close out on Richard Forney at the three point line. “They have so many weapons. If we can keep (Boykins) out of the interior and off the glass, Lovett off the drive, and if we limit Forney’s open looks, at least we’re trying to do the right thing,” Martin said.

Teams never want to lose, especially to a rival, but having the weight of a perfect record through three games against a worthy opponent is a heavy one to bear. Martin says while Jenks didn’t want to lose the game, they can take solace in knowing some of the pressure is off their back.

“I think that’s the silver lining,” he said. “We probably didn’t feel that way when they beat us that night. We just encouraged our guys to not get too down and that we potentially could see these guys in two weeks.”

Another weight was lifted off their backs in the regional tournament. Jenks took care of business in the first round against Ponca City, winning 66-45, but against Owasso, they were tested.

In the first and only meeting between the Trojans and Rams, Jenks squeaked by in a 49-47 game. In the second round of regionals, much was the same. Jenks won by two again, 53-51, on their home floor. Getting the experience of winning a close game in the postseason is something they’re glad to have.

“I think, for us, we’re glad it happened this weekend”, Martin said. “To have to go through that gamut of emotions that postseason basketball brings. The high of having a three possession lead and the low of giving it up. Then having to show some resilience and make a tough play and make tough free throws.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to experience a win through toughness, your team is going to grow.”

Jenks and Union will play in Owasso at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The winner of that game advances to the state tournament. The loser will have the chance to earn a trip to state by playing the winner of Broken Arrow vs. Yukon the next day at 8 p.m. in Catoosa.

Hayden Tucker

Hayden Tucker is the Sports Editor and Director of Media for the Jenks Tribune. He has three years of experience in newspaper journalism before joining the Tribune. Tucker was born in McAlester, then moved to the Oklahoma City area in 2010 where he lived for nine years prior to moving to Jenks.

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