SALLISAW — It's been a perfect start to the season for first-year coach Shane Brown and his Central Lady Tigers.
The Lady Tigers have won their first eight ballgames, the latest a 51-11 triumph against Stigler in the opening round of the Armstrong Bank Sequoyah County Area Classic.
However, Brown and the 2A No. 14 ranked Lady Tigers will face their toughest challenge Thursday, going up against a highly-ranked Roland squad in the SCAC semifinals.
The Central-Roland girls game tips off the four-game semifinal slate at Sallisaw's Paul Post Fieldhouse.
"We need that, we need to get out there and play somebody that's going to punch us in the mouth a little bit and see how we will respond and get us ready for the stretch run into the playoffs," Brown said.
"We would love to win the Sequoyah County Tournament, we would love to accomplish all that, but we want to go to the Big House (State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City, where the state championships are held) and it's going to take games like Thursday to get us there."
Roland, now ranked No. 3 in 3A, moved its record to 11-1 after rolling past Gore in a first-round game Tuesday, 64-21. Kristin McKinney had 11 points, while Destany Cain and Kaitlyn Martinez added 10 apiece in the Lady Rangers' win.
Another girls team facing an imposing test in Thursday's semifinals will be the Vian Lady Wolverines.
Vian (4-4), which beat Sallisaw in its opening-round game, now takes on top-seeded and undefeated Muldrow, the top-ranked team in 4A.
But Lady Wolverine coach Jordan Garner said he is eager for the challenge.
"What a great opportunity," Garner said. "(Muldrow coach) Jana (Armer) does a great job, she runs a great program; I have a lot of respect for her and her program, so what a great opportunity to go and see what we can do."
The Lady Bulldogs moved to 11-0 overall with its win in the opening round Monday against Gans.
Another undefeated team is the Roland Rangers. The Rangers (12-0), ranked No. 3 in 3A, will take on Stigler in one boys semifinal game Thursday.
Roland is coming off an 85-34 first-round win against Gore on Tuesday, paced by Darrius Phillips' 31 points and 15 by Jaxon Wiggins.
Stigler advanced to the semifinals after a win against Sallisaw.
In Thursday's other boys semifinal, the Central Tigers square off against Vian.
Central (6-2) and Vian (5-3) have already played each other once during the regular season, with the Tigers claiming a 43-30 win in Vian on Dec. 7.
The semifinal winners will move on to Saturday night's championship games, also at Sallisaw.