The Norman Transcript

January 23, 2014

Tigers aiming to improve; T-Wolves need to get healthy

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Today begins one of the busiest weekends of the season for prep basketball, and all four Norman schools will take part.

Both Norman High teams will be at Carl Albert for a tournament, while the Norman North boys will be in Shawnee and the Norman North girls are traveling to Miami for a tournament. The NHS boys tip off at 11:30 a.m. today against Muskogee, while the NHS girls will meet Putnam City at 4 p.m. Norman North’s girls will meet Coweta at 6 p.m. and the boys will play Choctaw at 5:30 in Shawnee.

It’s an important weekend for all four teams, for different reasons. Both North teams are dealing with injuries to major players, while the Tigers are desperate for wins after several close losses in the last week.

The NHS girls may be most in need of a win after a disappointing effort in a loss to Westmoore on Tuesday. They’ll meet No. 15 Putnam City in the opening round of the tournament in a game that coach Nichole Copeland said is a huge opportunity for the Tigers.

“It’s another chance to play a ranked team and someone ahead of us to try and knock them off,” she said. “This is a big weekend for us. We have to find a way to get two wins.”

The boys are in a similar situation after losing a one-point game to Westmoore on Tuesday. It was one of the Tigers’ better performances this season but one that ultimately came up fruitless. With three opportunities on a big stage this weekend, securing at least two wins would be a boon to a NHS team that has steadily improved since returning from the holiday break.

While the Tigers are looking for improvement, the Timberwolves are just looking to get healthy. Both teams have been without key players recently and have watched the losses pile up as the number of available players goes down.

For the girls, a loss to Midwest City last week came after center Julian Mougell went out before tipoff with a severely sprained ankle. The senior will be out this weekend, as will senior leader and point guard Bri Kuestersteffen, who is out with a concussion. Several other T-Wolves are nursing injuries, and it’s a shorted-handed roster that will take the floor this weekend. They’ve lost two of three for the first time this season and can’t afford any more injuries entering the stretch run of the season.

“It really limits our options and messes with our rotations,” coach Jeff Blough said. “

Things aren’t much better on the boys side. The T-Wolves may be without Kairo Rutledge, who has a bone bruise on his shin, and are dealing with lingering injuries to guards Malcolm Carter, who will try to play this weekend, and Najji Brown, who will not. It’s an issue that may come back to haunt the T-Wolves in a potential second-round matchup against a fast and athletic Southeast team.

Corbin Hosler

Follow me @Chosler88

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