NORMAN — With the playoff picture quickly clearing itself up, the stakes for both Norman North and Norman High are exceedingly clear this week — win, or suffer a major setback to a season-long goal.
Things are dire for NHS. The Tigers (3-4, 1-3) must beat Edmond Santa Fe (5-2, 3-1) or fall completely out of the playoff picture. With their backs up against the wall, the Tigers must run the table from here on out to return to the postseason.
“We’ll come out and play,” NHS coach Greg Nation said. “We’re not down. It’s a bad situation, but we’re going to go out and play and do what we can do.”
North, on the other hand, has almost certainly already punched its playoff ticket. All that remains for the Timberwolves (5-2, 4-0) is a
possible district title. And while they’ve taken several major steps toward defending that title, including wins over Edmond North and Yukon, there is one major hurdle left.
That hurdle is Putnam City North, a team that has caught fire in the past month and is a surprising 3-1 District 6A-3 after struggling to an 0-4 start. That makes Friday’s contest, which a month ago looked liked it would end up an easy win for North, into a marquee game that will carry heavy playoff implications.
At 4-0 in district play, North controls its own destiny but can ill afford a slip-up. While a win would leave North with a comfortable lead in the district and two games against teams with a combined 3-11 record, a loss would throw things into chaos.
If the Panthers upset the T-Wolves on Friday and then both teams, along with Edmond North, win out there will be a three-way tie at 6-1 at the top of the district, with all three teams trading victories. That would leave the title up to the tiebreaker of district points, something that may not favor North since two of their wins are by just three points rather than the maximum of 15 that any team can earn in a game. District points, determined by margin of victory or defeat and totaled through all district games, are the tiebreaker used when head-to-head matchups can’t be taken into account.