Southmoore started out the season just like it did last year. They earned a convincing victory in the season opener before dropping back to .500 with a loss in their next game.

Last season that led to losing eight of their first nine games. But Southmoore coach Wes Brown believes going through that tough stretch then will help make sure it doesn’t happen again this go-around.

“Last season was a learning experience for most of our players,” Brown said. “We had two experienced players in (Brandon) Lucas and (Tilford) Thornton but the rest of the team had no varsity experience. We played many young players so hopefully this year that will pay off some.”

With its 50-49 win over Norman North Dec. 6, Southmoore have shown this is a different squad.

The SaberCats began the season with a convincing 48-36 win over Yukon on the road. However, Friday they lost to Norman 60-54 at home. The outcomes parallel what the coaching staff saw before the season began.

“We’ve had our ups and downs in preseason,” Brown said. “We’re still trying to find identity. Our Senior class is an extremely hard working and responsible group of young men. Hopefully this will spread to our younger players. They are very talented but haven’t learned the hard work ethic yet.”

Unlike the past three years when the Cats have had Lucas and Tilford to lean on, Southmoore doesn’t have any big names to lean on this year. It’s going to have to be more of a group effort if they are to succeeded.

“I can’t really single out any certain players,” Brown said. “We have a large number of them that can play on any given night so they better all be ready. I can’t replace Tilford and Brandon so this year it’s going to have to be more of a team effort.”

The good thing about having a diverse lineup, it allows Southmoore to play multiple styles.

“Style of play will be determined by who’s on the floor,” Brown said. “We can put a big line-up in and slow it down and bang the boards. Or we can put a smaller, quicker, team in and get after you. Trying to find a blend of the two is difficult so like I said we’re still trying to find our identity.”

Southmoore traveled to Midwest City Tuesday. The Bombers are good test to see if Southmoore is on the right track to where it wants to be when the season is complete.

“To get a good draw in the playoffs we’re going to have to win the games that are winnable and pull an upset or two along the way,” Brown said. “The playoffs are all about that first round draw and if you’ve got a bad record and struggled along the way then you’re going to draw one of the top teams in the state and the season will be over that first night. Our goal is to take one game at a time and see what happens when the playoffs roll around.”

Michael Kinney 366-3537 mkinney@mooreamerican.com

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