NORMAN — Friday’s Crosstown Clash may not have been the last time Norman High and Norman North will face off this season.
Both teams open the postseason tonight at North, with NHS (8-15) taking on Midwest City (13-9) at 6:30 p.m. before North (16-7) squares off with Lawton (4-19) at 8 p.m.
The winners of each game will meet 1:30 p.m. Saturday and advance to play in the area tournament the following week, while the losers will be eliminated from the Class 6A playoffs.
If Friday’s Clash — a North victory in a game that was tight for most of the way — was any indication, there’s a chance Saturday’s game could be the third Clash of the season.
North is rolling into the playoffs. The T-Wolves have won four of five, with the only loss in that span coming to fourth-ranked Southmoore. They showed on Friday why they’re so dangerous. Seven players scored for North, led by Bri Kuestersteffen’s 20 points, and the offense looked smooth and explosive.
Playing in a close game in front of a hostile crowd was as close to a playoff atmosphere as either can get, and both teams handled the pressure well. It’s something North sophomore Tia Williams expected to benefit the T-Wolves as they hope to make a deep postseason run.
“It was a really fun atmosphere,” she said. “It just kept us more pumped and more involved in the game.”
The Tigers are in a bit different situation. They’ve lost six in a row while dealing with illness and injury to their two leading scorers, Taylor Ely and Bethany Cox. Ely still hasn’t fully recovered from a badly sprained ankle while Cox missed one game last week with the flu and wasn’t at full strength against North.
But after a disappointing effort in a loss to Westmoore nine days ago, the Tigers turned it around for Friday’s Clash, playing one of their better games and threatening North well into the fourth quarter.
Heading into tonight’s game against the Bombers, a team that has beaten NHS twice this season, Friday’s game and the Tigers’ effort in practice has coach Nichole Copeland optimistic.
“That game was a step in the right direction for us,” she said. “Now can we bring that same focus and take another step forward?”
To do so, the Tigers must control Jasauen Beard, Midwest City’s most dangerous player who led the Bombers with 14 in the last meeting, a 40-30 Midwest City victory.
“Everything they do runs through her,” Copeland said. “We have to counter what she does and slow her down.”
Follow me @Chosler88