NORMAN — It’s no secret that Norman High, while an upperclassmen-laden group, has no shortage of players who haven’t seen significant varsity minutes before this year. From Jay Finley, who sat out last year injured, to Boston Lewis, who focused solely on football last year, the Tigers have plenty of new blood on the roster.
But, compared to their rivals from Norman North who will host the Tigers at 7:45 tonight in the first Crosstown Clash of the year, NHS has a decided advantage as far as experience is concerned. That’s because the Timberwolves have two freshmen in the starting lineup and three who see significant minutes.
And, while the trio of Marcus Dickinson, Quan Hogan and Lindy Waters III has been stellar so far for North, one thing they haven’t done is be anywhere near the bench, much less the court, for the Crosstown Clash.
It’s a fact that an anxious NHS team hopes will work to its advantage when the two teams tip off tonight.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are upperclassmen,” coach Matt Thornton said. “They’ve been in these situations before, either on the floor or on the bench. The more times you’ve had experiences like these rivalry games, the easier you hope it gets.”
Of course, it may turn out that having so many young players could work in the T-Wolves favor, a fact Thornton acknowledged.
“Sometimes freshmen don’t know to be nervous,” he said. “It can go either way.”
The Tigers — whom Thornton said have talked of nothing but the Clash for weeks — return plenty of Clash experience from last year’s squad. That includes senior captain Daniel Harper, a starter on last year’s team and a leader on this year’s.
“It’s going to be up in the air until the very end,” he said. “We need to focus on getting easy baskets and be patient on offense. We don’t have to force shots.”