The Norman Transcript

January 25, 2013

A good day to go to the gym

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NEWCASTLE — This is how it works. You look at the schedule. You see where everybody’s at, realize you can’t possibly be everywhere, so you pick a gym.

That’s how you wind up in Newcastle, where the Washington and Westmoore girls opened tournament play at 11 a.m. Thursday, followed by the Washington and Westmoore boys.

You know there’s history at work. A year ago, the Washington boys beat Westmoore in the title game. Also a year ago, the Washington girls beat the Westmoore girls, not in the title game. The Warriors are a Class 3A program. The Jaguars are a Class 6A program.

Can history repeat?

You go, too, because what’s cooler than eight games in the same gym on the same day? And because you might run into somebody you used to know. And you go for the same reason you’ve ever gone anywhere, hoping to see something great and cool.

It turns out, a Class 3A program topping a Class 6A program is so last season.

The Westmoore girls were too big and too much for coach Rocky Clarke’s Warriors, winning 53-39. And the Westmoore boys, maybe finding their game at the right time, went from 6-0 down to 64-37 up at the buzzer.

So last year’s great story isn’t this year’s great story. Still, there are good stories.

Clarke is starting two sophomores and three freshmen. The Warriors have won as many as they’ve lost this season. That may be terrific considering the squad’s youth, but not so wonderful considering the Washington girls’ history.

In 13 previous seasons, Clarke has guided the Warriors to 11 state tournaments. He’s not giving up on this season, either. He thinks he can go back with his younger than young team.

“Nobody thinks that but me,” he said.

As long as he’s right.

“We’re going to end up being really good,” Clarke said.

One freshman is 6-foot-3 Kelsey Johnson, who has some game to go with that frame. She and Dagan Lampkin combined for 29 points against the Jags.

Clarke really likes his team.

“They’re great,” he said. “They’re flipping and flopping on the floor. Their attitudes are good. They know I love them, so I can gripe at them, and we just keep on keepin’ on.”

Back to the state tournament? Do you want to bet against the Washington girls’ history?

The Westmoore boys would love to go to the state tournament. Thursday’s victory made them 9-5 on the season, and appeared to identify their best player; that, or at least one player they can go to when times turn tough.

Tripp Fuller is a working man’s basketball player. The best kid on the court for either team Thursday, the 6-4 forward finished with 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, all of it but two points coming in the game’s first 24 minutes.

The most impressive thing about him was he looked like a guy who knew what he wanted to do and did it, because lots of talented kids don’t.

“I’m a dirty work kind of guy,” said Fuller, who owns a 4.667 GPA and a 32 ACT score if can be trusted. “I just do what the team needs me to do for us to win.”

From the looks of it, what the team needs to do is put the ball in Fuller’s hands as often as possible.

As for the Washington boys, they’re not as young as the Washington girls. But they’re still young, clearly well coached and have a star in Cooper Treadaway, though he was limited to nine points and four rebounds by the Jaguars, who have won three of four, the only loss a plenty respectable 63-51 setback to No. 2 Edmond Memorial.

You thought you might see a repeat of last season’s David and Goliath stories. You didn’t, but you still found a couple good stories.

That, and Newcastle girls coach Teresa Johnston couldn’t have been happier to see you in her gym, inviting you into the hospitality room, every sportswriter’s favorite invitation.

And the third game of the day brought the Woodward girls, coached by Pat Hawkins, who you covered almost 20 years ago when he coached the Mooreland girls. And the Woodward boys followed, coached by Corey Miller, who you covered almost 20 years ago when he was averaging about 30 points a night at Waynoka.

You look at the schedule, find somewhere to go and see what you see.

It could be worse.

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning

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