NORMAN — One of the major themes heading into Thursday night’s Crosstown Clash was the number of unanswered questions surrounding each of the four teams involved.
Two hard-fought games and a couple hundred hoarse voices later, we don’t have definitive answers to those questions. But we do have some hints.
For starters, the young guns from Norman North are going to be great. The freshmen trio of Marcus Dickinson, Quan Hogan and Lindy Waters didn’t have much of a shooting night, but as coach Butch Roberts predicted, they didn’t shy away from the spotlight. The trio combined to score 33 points, grab 19 rebounds and dish out three assists.
It may have come in a losing effort, but it was still an impressive Clash debut for three young athletes playing in just the third varsity game of their young careers. And with a solid group of upperclassmen, led by junior Payton Prince, the ceiling for these T-Wolves is high.
When North’s coaches talk about the potential of this group, they aren’t looking years ahead, when the wily freshmen become seasoned veterans. They’re talking about this season. About the fact that after a few more months this group will have a dozen games under its belt and will learn to bring the “edge” Roberts saw in last week’s season-opening upset of Moore.
On the other side of the court were the Norman high boys, who for the first time this season were able “to put it all together,” in the words of senior guard Jay Finley. In front of a packed house, the Tigers put together their most complete game of the young season, epitomized by a 15-0 run to take control of the game after North had taken the lead.
But while things may have coalesced best two nights ago, it’s a point that has been in the works for a while. Every since coach Matt Thornton arrived late in the summer to take over the program, the Tigers have been steadily improving. With the holiday break allowing them a chance to get in the gym and implement more of Thornton’s system before a pair of tournaments that will test just how far along NHS has come.