As the new year begins, the high school basketball season resumes for Cleveland County’s programs.
Some took advantage of the holiday break to rest, while others competed in tournaments.
The playoffs are still weeks away but here are five things to watch as the season heats up:
1. The 6A girls race: Class 6A's girls poll is stacked at the top.
Five teams, including No. 4 Norman High, have at least two first-place votes.
NHS (7-1) currently shares the No. 4 spot with Booker T. Washington. The two programs trail only No. 1 Deer Creek — which dealt the Tigers their only loss — No. 2 Choctaw and No. 3 Edmond North.
No. 7 Moore (6-3) and No. 10 Norman North (8-2) also add to a crowded 6A field this season, which could leave multiple worthy teams disappointed come state tournament time.
2. North and NHS boys’ challenging slates: Nothing will come easy for the T-Wolves or Tigers in 2020.
No. 10 Norman North (5-2) faced 6A No. 2 Southmoore and lost by a large margin in December. The Timberwolves have more opportunities to prove themselves, though, moving forward.
North visits No. 12 Edmond North on Tuesday before playing in the McGuinness Classic (Jan. 9-11) and hosting No. 3 Edmond Memorial on Jan. 17.
NHS (2-4), on the other hand, heads to Edmond Santa Fe today ahead of Tuesday's clash with Edmond Memorial, the McGuinness Classic next weekend, at Edmond North on Jan. 17 and at Southmoore on Jan. 21.
3. Westmoore girls trending up: Since falling 42-27 to North on Dec. 10, coach Matt Thornton has the No. 20 Jaguars (4-3) back on track.
Westmoore beat 5A's top-ranked Piedmont 57-35 at the Durant Lion Classic and dropped a close game to Edmond Memorial, 45-42.
Westmoore can kick off 2020 with a bang at 6A's top-ranked Deer Creek tonight. The Jaguars also have an important trip to NHS on Jan. 31 and home games against Moore and Southmoore to close their regular-season schedule in February.
4. How Southmoore boys respond to first loss: A little adversity never hurt a championship-caliber team.
The SaberCats (8-1) rolled through the early part of their schedule unscathed but fell for the first time this season at the Poplar Bluff Showdown over the holiday break.
South Side High School (Jackson, Tennessee) beat Southmoore 70-60 in the Missouri-based tournament’s championship game. Coach Tim Stogsdill's squad will have a few more opportunities to win an in-season tournament crown at the Bartlesville Invitational and Moore Invitational in January.
5. CCS boys start strong: The Royals are off to a tremendous start to their 2019-20 season.
CCS (5-1) only has one loss — a 47-45 overtime defeat at Destiny Christian — and ranks No. 14 in Class 3A.
Since its Dec. 10 loss, CCS ran through the Big 8 Conference tournament unbeaten and topped Noble, 67-60.
CCS has a few challenges ahead — at No. 1 Millwood (Jan. 17), No. 13 Crossings Christian (Jan. 21) and at No. 8 Oklahoma Christian School (Feb. 3).
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6 and 7:30 p.m. — Norman High at Edmond Santa Fe
6 and 7:30 p.m. — Westmoore at Deer Creek
6:30 and 8 p.m. — Comanche at CCS
Dates to know
• Jan. 17, CCS at Millwood: Community Christian's 14th-ranked boys take on top-ranked Millwood in a marquee 3A match-up.
• Jan. 17, Edmond Memorial at Norman North: Each of the girls and boys teams involved are ranked, making for an exciting doubleheader.
• Feb. 4, Deer Creek at Moore: A pair of state tournament-worthy teams battle at 6 p.m. when the No. 7 Moore girls host top-ranked Deer Creek.
• Feb. 14, Norman North at Norman High: It's the season's second Crosstown Clash meeting. The North boys and NHS girls won the first time around.
• Feb. 21, Southmoore at Westmoore: The programs face each other for the second time in two weeks (the first meeting is set for Feb. 7) to close the regular season.