NORMAN — A year ago, Norman North was a talented team that couldn’t ever quite bring it all together. Through six games this season, the Timberwolves have looked like a talented team that has figured it out and converted that talent into a 5-1 start.
Starting with today’s 3:30 p.m. game against Guthrie in the first round of the Bishop McGuinness tournament, the T-Wolves will have a chance to show that to everyone.
The McGuinness Classic, entering its 54th season, is a high-profile tournament that consistently brings out some of the best teams in the state, and this year’s bracket is no different. For No. 9 Norman North, it’s an opportunity to announce to the rest of the state that the Timberwolves are not just a state tournament contender but a team with the ability to make a finals run.
“We want to go in and take care of business and hopefully win the tournament,” senior Payton Prince said. “We want to raise some eyebrows, turn some heads and let people know that Norman North is for real.”
That road starts with today’s contest against Guthrie (3-3), a team that enters on a two-game winning streak. The Timberwolves haven’t played since Dec. 20 but have stayed busy during the holiday break, starting back to practice on New Year’s Eve.
“Our guys gave themselves a chance with the 5-1 start to achieve their goals and have a really good season. This tournament is a good way to see where we’re at,” coach Bryan Merritt said.
The T-Wolves aren’t unfamiliar with tournament success in Merritt’s first season. They won a tournament in Texas last month and played what Merritt called some of their best basketball of the season. Now they have an opportunity to duplicate that success on a larger stage.
“Winning that first tournament was big because it was my first year and it was a good tournament for our team,” he said. “Now we’re going to a big tournament at McGuinness and have to play some good teams and win some big games.”
North isn’t the only Norman team that will be at the tournament. Norman High is also in the field, and begins the tournament with a 7:30 p.m. game against Edmond North. The Tigers (0-3) have played just three games this season and are looking for a chance to kickstart their season.
“It’s a chance to get moving in the right direction,” coach Matt Thornton said. “You’d think with a team that’s only played three games practices could be getting dull, but our focus has stayed good throughout, and we’re getting a little better every practice.This weekend, we’re looking to go get some wins, and we’ll take it one step at a time.”
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