NORMAN — With regional pairings set to be released in a few days, the attention of Norman’s basketball teams will soon be turned to their seeding, playoff matchups and travel plans.
But first, there’s the matter of the Crosstown Clash to settle.
Norman North will travel to Norman High at 6:15 p.m. tonight to meet in the second edition of the Crosstown Clash. In the first back in December the Timberwolves walked away with a victory in both contests, though both games were competitive for most of the way. North pulled out an eight-point victory in the girls’ game behind a balanced effort that saw four players score at least seven points, while the boys pulled away in the second half for a 68-43 win.
Things have changed since then.
For the North girls, injuries have decimated the team over the past several weeks, though starters Sam Landreth and Bri Kuestersteffen are expected to rejoin the starting lineup tonight. Sub Julian Mougell, who returned to play a few minutes last week, will likely sit most of the game and even if she is able to play will have a limited impact as she works her way back from a torn ligament in her ankle.
But the biggest change has come from the Tigers. NHS has won four in a row and entered the top 20 in the final spot. The young core of players coach Nichole Copeland has put together includes four freshmen, but the group has improved significantly since the first Clash, and the results have begun to show.
That was made clear in Saturday’s upset of Edmond Memorial. The Tigers trailed early in the contest and were tied with four minutes to play before taking control of the game to walk away with the win.
“I think it shows we’re starting to grow up and figure things out,” Copeland said after that game. “I’m proud of my team. They’re getting better every time we play.”
On the other side, the North boys have been rolling of late. They’ve won six straight and have done so in convincing fashion. That includes a 71-42 dismantling of Westmoore last week that showcased a T-Wolves team preparing for a deep run into the playoffs.
Coach Bryan Merritt has preached to his team about the importance of playing well in the final 10 games of the regular season, and it appears to be something they’ve taken to heart. The T-Wolves close the season with games against Moore, Del City and No. 2 Midwest City after the Clash tonight.
While tonight’s games are important to the squads for bragging rights, they won’t impact potential playoff seeds. Games through last Saturday are the only ones that will impact the regional seedings that will be released on Thursday.
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