Coach Derek Barlow used weight training to improve his team

Pocola’s boys’ basketball fell from 9 to 82 in all four seasons before coach Derek Barlow arrived in 2020, but a team that was tired of losing are ready to work hard and prepare differently. .

“We don’t have a lot of rules; we are just doing the right thing, namely ‘show up and work hard everyday with no excuses’ and personal accountability, ”Barlow said. “We probably lost a few when I first got here, but the ones who are here are the ones who have bought into this and want to do it and want to be successful.”

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Barlow began the rebuilding project by installing organized weight training which he said was not present before. The Arkansas graduate worked with Pocola’s other coaches to create the training program: footballer Jason Parker, baseball player Terry Smith and his son Jordan, a former All-of-the-World quarterback. State in Van Buren.

Pocola players (9-1) bring notebooks to workouts to track lift numbers, and they also regularly check personal body weight. Focusing on blast and sport specific training, player development helped them go 13-10 and reach the regional finals in Barlow’s first season. But that didn’t happen without staff having the attitude to make these changes.

One of those players is Tre Elam, a senior playmaker who Barlow said was already a solid ball handler capable of attacking the basket, but only getting better. He won Bill Frye Invitational MVP on December 30.

“Tre has a great personality when it comes to being outgoing and involved with a lot of kids, so just his personality kind of draws you in,” Barlow said. “He has a great sense of humor, just the kind of kid he just loves to have fun and I think he makes things fun for a lot of kids around him. He’s a good boy. , a good player, he has everything you want in a basketball player.

Garrett Scott has played in several games in which he took 10 rebounds, Barlow said. Son of Sallisaw’s girls’ coach Greg Scott, the goaltender was a reliable freshman but “dramatically improved” in sophomore, according to Barlow.

Another is Eli Garrett, a 6-3 senior who Barlow says has gained over 25 pounds since last season. On the pitch, he was primarily a post player but developed a more complete game. He improved his jumping ability and showed it with a dunk against Talihina, but also extended his shot to score 19 points in Thursday’s 55-44 victory over Panama.

Trenton Underwood, a player Barlow spotted in offseason baseball, made similar weight gains, who hadn’t played basketball since grade school but had the potential given his long lifespan. He broke his leg in a 2020 preseason scrimmage against Muldrow, missed several weeks of last season, but remained in the weight room despite the injury.

However, don’t forget the transfer of Northside Ian Hardwick, District 2A-5 Quarterback of the Year.

On the basketball court, Hardwick – the team’s leading scorer brings similar versatility, having scored 29 points and added 14 rebounds in the team’s first meeting with Panama on December 16 at the Choctaw Nation Invitational.

Pocola’s only loss of the season came in this tournament’s final against Roland and has won five straight wins since then.

He continues his schedule with Spiro on Friday, ahead of games against Wilburton and Hartshorne ahead of the County Leflore tournament. Around February 1, he expects the return of the transfer of Southside Brenden O’Connell.

You can follow Bryant Roche on Twitter @BRocheSports and email him at

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