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December 20, 2013

Girls’ Clash a case of youth vs. experience

NORMAN — One is a team that a year ago, while young, made a run to the state tournament and returned everyone from its roster. The other is a team starting three freshmen who have never experienced a Crosstown Clash.

It’s a disparity in experience that sets up tonight’s Clash as a referendum on just how much experience matters.

Not that everyone believes any of that matters.

“We know how good they are, and we’ve seen them all play,” Norman North coach Jeff Blough said. “It’s just basketball, and that’s what matters. We have a lot of kids who’ve played in the state tournament and played in big games, but they do, too. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Still, nerves are likely to play a role, and it’s the Timberwolves who figure to be more prepared for the atmosphere.

“I’m not as nervous now that it’s my third year playing,” North junior Haley Woodard said. “We’ve matured from last year, and I think that will help us. But it’s High-North. It doesn’t matter who’s ranked higher or who is supposed to be the better team.”

North is the favorite on paper. The fourth-ranked Timberwolves (1-1) returned all of last year’s state quarterfinals squad and swept all three Crosstown Clash games a year ago.

On the other side, Norman High (0-2) brings a retooled roster that features seniors Chandler Coale and Taylor Ely, who set a new career high with 36 points in Tuesday’s loss to Edmond Memorial, alongside a bevy of young talent. Leading the way is freshman Bethany Franks, a force inside for the Tigers, along with Shelby Thrailkill, Jandra Levi, Brennan Hockett and Darieanna Hunter.

The young Tigers are winless in a high school season that has gone through its ups and downs thanks to weather-related delays, but they have been competitive in both contests. They held a late lead against Edmond Memorial and had a chance to win in regulation before falling in overtime.

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