• Lisa Henshall

Wizards ready to beat the Servants

WICHITA - The Oklahoma City Servants are coming to town to take on the Wichita Wizards and they are the team that has shut down the Wizards' hopes for perfect season and postseasons in past years. So things might just get a little tense. Tip off is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 at the Friends University Garvey Center (athletic center at Kellogg and Meridian), 2100 W. University. Doors open at 6 p.m.

"We beat them at home by six points before, but these guys are intense, they play us close," said Coach Terry Stucky. "They are skilled and shoot the ball well."

While Stucky had complimentary words about the OKC team, owner Mark Creed had different things on his mind.

"We're looking to even things up a bit," laughed Creed. "They've shut us down for the league championship twice now. I think we might be looking for a bit of revenge."

Ticket prices range from $20 courtside to $5 kids tickets and are available at the door.

"It's affordable and definitely not boring," said Stucky. "Now that March Madness is over, I think folks will appreciate the fast-paced, college style game the Wizards play. Lots of action. Exciting and lots of scoring."

Lots of scoring might be an understatement. The Wizards have averaged 138 points per game this season while holding opponents to an average of 78 points. In fact, their first game against the Great Plains Bison had nearly a 100-point difference.

But don't think that the home game this weekend will be repeat of that blowout.

"The Bison coach was sick and they were only able to travel with seven guys," said Stucky, of the lopsided but spirited match. "I was definitely impressed by them, they never quit fighting."

That's something Stucky said he sees every week from MLBA teams - a never give up attitude.

"I think in all the time I've been involved with the Wizards, I've only seen one team give up and wave the white flag - and they aren't playing at all anymore," said Stucky. "The Bisons sure didn't do that. I think they will be healthy and come out fighting when we play them again in May."

And Oklahoma City is healthy and more than ready to take on the Wizards.

In fact, Oklahoma teams make up the next two games, the Servants on April 9 and the Outlaws the following weekend on the road. That road game will be followed up by a quick, next-day, home matchup against the Tri-State 66ers.

These three games in eight days is a crucial moment in the Wizards' season.

"That schedule is going to be a test for the team," said Stucky. "It will definitely show the character of these guys."

The team, being a minor league organization, does receive pay for their play - however, Stucky said that the players all have day jobs. There is a nurse, a Koch employee, an Amazon warehouse worker and more. The majority also have families.

"The league is set up so these guys can pursue their dreams," said Stucky. "While having a family and a job."

The players are hungry, looking for their final chance at the big leagues and hoping that a stellar MLBA season will help them catch the eye of a scout or coach.

"That's really why this league exists," said Stucky. "These guys are hungry, excited to be playing professional ball, and they are scrappy. It is definitely fun to watch."

One of those players is currently stuck on the bench but not when it comes to his day job as a local health care pro. Brian Weber is taking some care of his own health for the coming weeks. After a great start with his new professional basketball team, the professional basketball player sat out the game April 2. The game against the Bombers wasn't quite as much fun for Weber due to a foot injury that will be re-evaluated by MRI in mid-April.

Coach Stucky said he expects Weber to be cheering on his team from the sidelines until May.

"It's tough because Brian brings a lot of leadership to the team," said Stucky. "He's our oldest player at thirty-six and has played in Dodge City and the MLBA and has a lot of talent and experience."

Weber might be stuck on the bench this weekend, but at least he gets front row seats for an exciting game.

The Wichita Wizards will be cheered on by a crowd and by Weber at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 at the Friends University Garvey Center (athletic center at Kellogg and Meridian), 2100 W. University. Doors open at 6 p.m. following a Friends University athletics volleyball tournament so fans are asked to be patient when looking for parking spaces near game time.

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