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Super 5 girls basketball: Anadarko coach Jeff Zinn's system continued to work

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Jeff Zinn coached the gritty Anadarko Warriors to a state championship this season. He is The Oklahoman’s Super 5 Coach of the Year. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Jeff Zinn coached the gritty Anadarko Warriors to a state championship this season. He is The Oklahoman’s Super 5 Coach of the Year. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

ANADARKO — As a young coach, Jeff Zinn devised a system he thought fool-proof.

Size and speed weren’t involved, though they wouldn’t hurt. It was all about toughness and desire to win.

It’s a perfect fit in Anadarko.

A small community west of Chickasha thrives on it. Anadarko’s girls basketball team didn’t feature size or a superstar player capable of scoring 30 points any night.

But it had grittiness.

“We might not be the tallest, we might not be the fastest but if we all work together and do the little things right we can turn it into a game of who wants it worst,” Zinn said.

In one of his most impressive seasons as a coach, Zinn led Anadarko to its second Class 4A state championship during his tenure. The Warriors ended the season on a 21-game winning streak and were giant killers, taking down four straight opponents who were bigger and perhaps even favored to win.

Zinn is The Oklahoman’s Super 5 Coach of the Year.

“I would say this is the least stressful season I ever coached,” Zinn said. “Towards the end, it was so gratifying.

“By time we got to the semifinals and finals I never felt so relaxed coaching in my life. I really trusted my kids, I had bought into everything they were about. You could just tell by the facial expressions they were committed to getting it done.”

But Zinn’s season got off to a tough start.

His mom, Gay, died in late October. She and her husband Archie drove from Buffalo to almost every one of Zinn’s games. She was an All-State player at Cordell herself, so watching her son coach meant the world.

And the past few years Zinn’s daughters have been on his team. Averi is a junior. Twins Layni and Libbi are freshmen.

“They were the biggest fans,” Zinn said. “It was neat to see. They loved all of the kids (on) our team. They obviously loved their granddaughters, but they took great pride in the team we had.”

Archie still made about half of this season’s games. What he saw was a relentless group of players.

Anadarko has three players taller than 5-foot-8 on its roster, but some even debate that. With a swarming defense, the Warriors overwhelmed people.

They beat No. 2 Classen SAS in the area tournament championship game. They beat No. 6 Newcastle to open the state tournament. They beat No. 7 Victory Christian in the semifinals. To cap it all off, they took down No. 1 Muldrow — a team with more size and college talent — for the title.

Zinn’s longtime system once again worked.

“Never had I run into four teams back-to-back-to-back-to-back that were so good,” Zinn said. “I’m just so proud of my kids that they did it in the toughest possible way.”

Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

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