NORMAN — The two most prominent new faces for Norman North this season have been freshmen guards Lindy Waters and Marcus Dickinson, who have earned starting roles on the team in just their first season.
But the freshmen aren’t the only new starters for the T-Wolves. Junior Kairo Rutledge moved into North this year and has come on strong for North in the last few weeks.
With the departure of Quan Hogan from the starting lineup, Rutledge has earned the lion’s share of those minutes. The 6-7 center has dealt with some lingering knee injuries that are still bothering him, but he’s given the Timberwolves something that was at times missing from the lineup — an inside post presence.
“Kairo’s coming along little by little,” coach Butch Roberts said. “He’s become a much better practice player and that was something he recognized he had to do to get more minutes.”
Besides the injury troubles, the biggest problem Rutledge has is that the gameplan at times dictates how much he sees the floor. North, a team filled with quick and athletic guards, has had to play without Rutledge when the T-Wolves are forced to get into a press and running offense.
“There are situations where we can’t take advantage of his size advantage because we’re down and have to chase them around,” Roberts said. “But he’s been a very effective low-post scorer for us when we are able to use him.”
Ely to try return Friday: Norman High’s leading scorer Taylor Ely has been out the two weeks with a badly sprained ankle, and the Tigers have clearly missed her during that stretch. The good news for both is that Ely is set to try and return for Friday’s 6:15 p.m. game at Moore.
The junior was originally set to return for last week’s Westmoore tournament but hadn’t healed. Friday’s game against 2-11 Moore should give Ely a chance to ease back into the rotation before Tuesday’s rematch with Westmoore, a team that beat the Tigers 43-40 on Saturday.
Hansen earns top-five ranking: Norman North wrestler Hayden Hansen has moved up to third in the latest round of wrestling rankings. The sophomore wrestles at 126 pounds and played a big role in North’s upset over NHS in the Crosstown Clash a month ago.
Several other Norman wrestlers are also ranked. NHS’ Nigel Jollifie is ninth at 106 pounds and North’s Austin McTrusty is also ranked ninth at 285.
Stinson continues to impress: NHS heavyweight Jake Stinson continued his impressive streak Tuesday at dual regionals. The junior closed the night with a pin against his opponent from Putnam City just 14 seconds into the match.
Stepping into a starting role for the first time this year, Stinson has performed well. He’s placed fifth or higher at every tournament this season, including a third-place finish at the Norman Invitational Tournament.
Next up for Stinson is what may be the toughest field yet at the Yukon Tournament this weekend.
“It’s a bear of a tournament,” coach Bo Maynes said. “But they know how tough that tournament this weekend will be, and they embrace that.”
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