Times Record News
Published April 27, 2018
The Oil Bowl isn’t just for football anymore.
Oil Bowl chairman Yoshi Fukasawa announced Friday that the annual all-star weekend in Wichita Falls will include basketball, starting this year, for the first time since 2005.
Boys and girls all-star basketball games will be played Friday, June 15, at Rider Fieldhouse. The girls will play at 6 p.m. with the boys following at 7:30 p.m. Teams will consist of 10 players and feature athletes from the Wichita Falls area.
“For the last two or three years, we’ve been trying to add little pieces to the Oil Bowl week instead of it being just a football game on Saturday night,” Fukasawa said. “We’ve added little things here or there to make it more of a larger event. We added a youth football clinic two years ago. Last year we added a youth cheerleader clinic and a 7-on-7 football tournament. We want to keep growing it.
“This is another venue for us to showcase the local talent that we have around the Wichita Falls area. We switched to an east-west format the last couple years and we focused on bringing in more local kids. We’ll do the same thing for basketball. I’ve been talking about it with (Rider head boys basketball coach Cliff McGuire). There’s no venue to showcase the local basketball talent in the area. We want to provide that.”
This is overdue. The previous versions of the Oil Bowl all-star basketball games didn’t have great attendance. That largely had to do with how teams were formed, attempting to grab players from across the state.
The Oil Bowl’s decision to make the football game more of a local all-star game has been successful. According to Fukasawa, the Oil Bowl has seen a 30-percent increase in attendance since making that decision.
Basketball should benefit similarly. Most importantly, it puts the depth of quality basketball talent in the area on display.
“There’s a lot of basketball talent in this area and we need a venue to showcase it,” McGuire said. “It gets more kids involved. Anything for our kids in the area to get involved is a great thing I think. We’re going to have 40 more local kids getting a chance to be displayed.”
The amount of talent on the hardwood in recent years has been astounding. There is an abundance of all-star worthy players even if only seniors are chosen each year. Olney coach Carl Pennington was around the last time the Oil Bowl included basketball and is excited to see it return.
“I think it was a great idea to get kids recognition in the area,” Pennington said. “I think it finally gets kids in the area some of the recognition they need. I think we’ve got a lot of good players in all the communities around here. It’s great to get all that talent in Wichita Falls.”
No players have yet committed or even been consulted about playing. Coaches haven’t been announced, either, although Fukasawa says they will be finalized soon.
The line separating the East team from the West hasn’t been finalized, but will likely fall along Highway 281. That line is not set in stone. It will be altered to create competitive balance.
For example, fans probably shouldn’t expect to see Windthorst senior Tatum Veitenheimer and Bowie senior Kamryn Cantwell on the same team. It’s not a given either girl will commit to play in this year’s all-star game, but as the top two senior girls basketball players in the area, it would not provide competitive balance if they do play and were placed on the same team.
Which side of the line Rider, Wichita Falls High School, Hirschi and Burkburnett fall is also up for discussion each year just like it typically is for the football all-star game.
Speaking of which, athletes cannot be both a basketball and football all-star. That makes sure a maximum number of area athletes will get an opportunity to compete.
A couple years ago, we were wondering what it would taken to keep the Oil Bowl from fading into obscurity. Hats off to the board of directions for finding a way to get the area communities to reinvest in the weekend.
This latest move only reinforces their commitment to area high school athletes.