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District games are magnified in a district where teams play each other just once during a season.
And when North Oldham heads to Oldham County at 7:30 p.m. Friday, there will be high District 29 stakes.
OC (11-5, 1-1 district) will be playing its final regular season district game, while North (7-8, 0-0) will be playing its first.
“It seems like it’s been a long road since we’ve played a district game,” Mustangs coach Chris Stobaugh said. “Our guys are really amped up for it, I’m sure.”
Because of its loss to South last week, coach Coy Zerhusen’s OC squad needs a win Friday to keep its slim chances of a district tournament No. 1 seed alive. If the Colonels were to beat North Friday and then the Mustangs were to beat South Oldham Feb. 4 and Trimble County Feb. 6, then North, OC and South would all finish 2-1 in the district.
Should North win Friday, it will control its destiny in the District 29 race. Meanwhile the Colonels would likely be guaranteed a spot in the 2 vs. 3 district tournament game, where they’d face either North or South.
Oldham County schools have a firm grip in the four-team district. South ranks No. 1 in the Courier-Journal’s Region 8 rankings, followed by OC at No. 3 and North at No. 6. Therefore there’s a lot of incentive for county teams to meet No. 14 Trimble in the 1 vs. 4 game of the district tournament rather than have to face each other in the 2 vs. 3 game.
Last February North and OC met in one of those games and the Mustangs came up short, 57-40, ending their season.
“I think our guys have used that as motivation for the weight room and for conditioning and through the grueling practices and this tough pre-regional schedule we’ve played,” Stobaugh said of last year’s loss.
One advantage North has that it didn’t last year is starting point guard and leading scorer, junior Jon Jon Henry.
Henry, who sat out last season, averages 16 points per game for the Mustangs.
He, fellow junior Chris Burton and senior Trevor Burton will be matched up against a steady OC backcourt that features junior guards Hayden Hawes and Connor Hicks.
North must also find someone to guard Colonel senior Austin Wills, a player with the size of a forward but perimeter shooting ability of a guard.
“He presents a matchup problem for us,” Stobaugh said of Wills. “We’re going to put someone a little different on him that I think most people wouldn’t expect us to put on him… He loves the corner 3 so we have to do a good job of getting him off that corner 3. And we’ll have to make him do some things he’s not used to doing.”
Another good matchup will be inside, where OC forward Austin Perkins will battle with North center Adam Klingeman.
“I think they have a lot of pieces you can out together and make a really good ball club,” Stobaugh said of OC. “They’ve got good guard play, good interior play and they’re very well-coached.”
The Pegasus Sports Network will broadcast the game Friday, starting with a pregame show at 7 p.m., at pegasussportsky.com.
Follow @EraBrad on Twitter for game coverage