NORMAN — Coach Britney Kannady-Sayes didn’t recognize her team. When No. 4 Southmoore lost in the regional championship to Edmond Memorial last week, the first year coach couldn’t believe how badly her team had played.
When the SaberCats (20-5) take the floor at 8 p.m. today against Norman High (9-17) in the area tournament, Kannady-Sayes is hoping all remnants of the squad that lost to Memorial has been erased. And in its place the team that ran roughed-shod through the regular season makes its return.
“I think that wasn’t even our team that stepped on the floor,” Kannady-Sayes said. “Everything needs to change. How we step on the floor, how we play, every minute of the ball game needs to change from that because it was terrible.”
The loss to the Bulldogs put the SaberCats in the position they are in now. They have to defeat the Tigers tonight or their season will come to a crushing halt.
Southmoore owns a 2-0 record against NHS this year, having won both contests by doubles figures, including a 21 drubbing in the season opener. Both games, however, came before Southmoore’s intensity level dropped over the past few weeks.
Senior Kayla Tucker says it may have been due to the team getting “a big head” and not working as hard. But she expects to see a return to form now that the season is in a do-or-die situation.
“I want to see a lot of actual excitement and want to be there,” Tucker said. “We haven’t been playing the last couple of weeks with very much fire and excitement. We talked about that yesterday. I just want us come out and actually look like we want to be out on the floor and play.”
Before upsetting Midwest City in the first round of the regional tournament, Norman High had lost seven straight games to end the regular season.
But Kannady-Sayes doesn’t want her team to look at the records or the scores of the previous matchups. She wants her unit to get back to what made it successful in the regular season. That was a frenetic defense, a strong low-post game in Serithia Hawkins and Kyeria Hannah and Tucker coming up with clutch shots.
“I don’t think we need to bring any type of attitude,” Kannady-Sayes said. “We just need to go in and take care of business and execute what we came to do. We just need to go in and play Southmoore basketball. Everything else will take care of itself.”
If they don’t, the SaberCats know their quest of making it to the program’s first-ever state tournament will have come to an end.
“Hopefully we are focused and prepared and ready to play with fire,” Kannady-Sayes said. “And fight because we know exactly what’s at stake. It’s win or go home at this point.”