Oklahoma high school boys basketball: Putnam North tops Edmond North, advances to state tournament
EDMOND – Putnam North's celebration was a mixture of disbelief and happiness.
The Class 6A sixth-ranked Panthers topped No. 3 Edmond North 61-56 on Friday at Edmond Santa Fe High School in the area championship, securing their place in the state tournament. For the Panthers, it was only their third game since January in one of the craziest seasons in program history.
Coronavirus has wrecked schedules all year. Star sophomore guard Jeremiah Johnson was shot in early February. Then snow storms wiped out the final two weeks of the season.
Putnam North came into the playoffs with little camaraderie and no competition outside of one another for more than a month. Three games later, the Panthers are back in the state tournament.
"It feels great," Putnam North coach Ryan Wagner said. "We were missing some pieces tonight, but these guys rallied. They changed positions, their roles. Embraced it all."
Josh Nwankwo led the Panthers (12-3 overall) with 18 points on six makes from deep. His twin brother, Jeff, a Tulane football signee, scored 16 points, including 11 in the second half.
Johnson, who was shot twice in early February, was on the bench during the second half.
The Panthers trailed 21-18 at halftime and were struggling offensively. Edmond North's Dalante Shannon had 12 points and was controlling the game. But everything changed in the third quarter.
Josh Nwankwo hit three of his six 3s. Jeff Nwankwo scored seven points. The Panthers led by nine after the third quarter and controlled the majority of the fourth quarter.
Excuses were there, but none were made. And now Putnam North is back in the state tournament.
"We're so happy," Jeff said. "As a team, we definitely came together."
Added Josh: "We're used to the playoffs. We've been here every year."
Reporter Cameron Jourdan covers high school sports across the Oklahoma City metro and state. Have a story idea for Cameron? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Cam_Jourdan. Support Cameron’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe or by using the link at the top of this page.