NORMAN — Norman High had defeated Norman North in every Crosstown Clash dating back 10 years until the Timberwolves beat NHS earlier this season.
Despite that, it’s the Tigers who enter tonight’s Clash rematch much more in need of a win. NHS (8-14) has lost five straight and the last loss, a 57-39 defeat to Westmoore on Tuesday, came without starter Bethany Cox, who is still questionable for today’s 6:15 p.m. game at NHS.
Worse for the Tigers in their loss to the Jaguars was the way in which they lost. In tight losses against Midwest City and Edmond Memorial, NHS played good team defense and, more importantly for coach Nichole Copeland, played together. That’s something that was missing Tuesday, and it’s something the second-year coach hopes her team can rekindle tonight.
“They didn’t play together or help each other at all tonight,” she said after the loss. “Every man was on an island, and that’s not how good teams play.”
Copeland used film of the game to show her team the mistakes they made in hopes of improvement against North. But the ultimate change isn’t something that coaches can control, Copeland said.
“They have to see it for themselves and decide to do the right things,” she said. “Right now, Friday’s game is the least of our worries. We have to worry about us.”
With just a week to go before NHS opens the postseason against Midwest City, the Tigers not only have to correct the mental mistakes. With Taylor Ely still struggling at times with a lingering ankle injury and Cox’s recent absence, they must figure out how to reintegrate an offense that has struggled recently.
It’s a slightly different story at North, where the Timberwolves are healthy but interested in cleaning up some mistakes in hopes of making a deep playoff run.