MOORE — While most teams look to enter the postseason clicking on all cylinders and drama free, Moore has taken a different approach. Not because that’s what they have chosen, but because it has been forced upon them by circumstances.
That includes, in the last few weeks, having two of their top players leave the team.
“I think it’s just a lot of talent and a lot of kids wanting to play and really not knowing how to channel that competitive drive,” Moore coach Aaron Howell. “We’re back on track now. And those that didn’t feel like we were on the same page, they went on their separate ways. We are still deep, still talented. I think we can still do some things.”
However, the Lions have proven all year long they can find a way to regroup from every mini crisis and find ways to win basketball games.
“We kept pushing through, so it’s made it stronger,” junior Dorion Ginger said. “We have to come closer and not worry about the distraction and just focus on winning.”
The Lions (12-10) will kick off the postseason Friday when it travels to Owasso and will face No. 17 Booker T. Washington (14-8) in the first round. While the rest of the area teams will stay on the West side of the state, the Lions are the only ones to have to go to the East to compete.
However, Howell is not worried about where his team is going to be playing. He just wants them to finally be in the right frame of mind after ending the regular season with a 2-2 record. That includes a second straight lost to cross town rival Westmoore.
“We are getting back to where we need to be,” Howell said. “We fell off for a little bit. But everybody seems to be back on track. We have to play our best ball this week or we’re done.”
BTW comes into its matchup with Moore winning five straight contests. They are led by Juwan Parker, a 6-foot-5, 200 pound senior. He is the 39th ranked shooting guard in the nation and has committed to play at Georgia next year.
Moore knows it will have to try and contain Parker and Kevin Simms if they want to advance.
“We are looking OK,” sophomore Jaylon Wilson said. “We need to focus on defense first. Just do it all on defense and work better as a team.”
If the Lions win Friday, they will play the winner of No. 4 Owasso-Sand Springs in the regional championship Saturday at 7 p.m. If they lose, their season will be done.
“They have to fully commit to each other,” Howell said. “Make sure the boys are playing hard for each other. Regardless of what comes out of my thought,. Some of them have to realize this may be it for them. We need to go out swinging. Need to play hard for yourself, for your team and to show this is the Moore Lion team everyone expected us to be this year.”
Westmoore (16-7) vs. Putnam City North (9-12)
The Jaguars and Panthers will face off at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Midwest City in the first round.
Westmoore has won six of its last seven games. It’s only loss was to No. 1 Midwest City, who they could meet in the second round if they win.
The Jaguars are considered the favorite to win the matchup with PCN. But that was the same position it was in last year when they lost in the first round.
“When we defend and rebound like we need too, we are a tough team to beat,” Westmoore coach Scott Hodges said. “We can really score the ball, so that usually isn’t a problem. We will either make or break ourselves on the defensive end of the floor.”
Southmoore (8-13) at No. 8 Eisenhower (15-6)
The SaberCats lost two of their top players around the Christmas break and have not found their footing since. They have played in some close games against good teams, but their offensive struggles have prevented them from winning more games.
SMH face a talented and deep Eagles squad on their own floor. The Cats will have to have their best game of the season if they want to pull off the upset.
Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth firstname.lastname@example.org