NORMAN — If there’s one common thread between Norman High and Norman North, it’s the inconsistency that both teams have shown at times this season. It was a concern that was on full display on Tuesday night, when the Tigers played an up and down game against Edmond Memorial and the Timberwolves allowed themselves to fall behind 23-6 against Southmoore before mounting a comeback.
It’s in that context that NHS (0-2) travels to No. 11 North (4-1) for the season’s first Crosstown Clash, a contest between two talented teams that split games last season and are looking to build some consistency this year.
The Timberwolves took a big step forward in that respect with last week’s tournament win in Burkburnett, Texas, before taking a step back against Southmoore. The Tigers, on the other hand, are simply trying to consistently get on the court after losing one game and an entire tournament to severe winter weather.
“We showed a lot of good stuff tonight, but we’re just too inconsistent to do much with it right now,” coach Matt Thornton said after Tuesday’s loss to Edmond Memorial. “I see a lot of good things, and we’ve got some time to figure it out.”
The Tigers have a prime opportunity this weekend to show how much they’ve figured out in that time. After tonight’s Clash, they’ll travel to Del City Saturday for a make-up game, giving them a chance to even out their record heading into Christmas break.
For North, the first several weeks have been an adjustment to Merritt’s system. With several new faces on a young roster, the Timberwolves nearly upset defending state champion Edmond Memorial before going on a four-game winning streak. Tuesday’s poor start was a setback, but the T-Wolves showed just how dangerous they could be by storming back to win the game.
“I don’t know if it was coming back from that tournament in Texas or if we thought we were better than we are, but we came out flat,” Merritt said of the Southmoore game. “But they figured it out and gutted it out, and it was a good win for us.”
There’s inexperience on both rosters. The Tigers have just two players back who logged regular varsity minutes a year ago, while North has a number of sophomores and a freshman in the rotation. It will be the first Crosstown Clash experience for many of the players on the court.
It also will be Merritt’s first trip to the Clash. But, while it may not be any other game, his approach to it with his team will be the same.
“We’ve got to do the same things we’ve got to do in any other game: play defense, rebound, push the ball and play harder than the other team,” he said. “If you do those four things, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Crosstown Clash, the state semifinals or a middle school game, you’ll have something to hang your hat on.”
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