Norman point guard Kelbie Washington is pretty blunt when she explains what it takes to win a state championship.
“For me personally, it’s whoever shows up,” said Washington matter-of-factly. “It’s whoever wants it the most.”
Washington and the rest of the Tigers proved they wanted it the most last season when they outlasted a stacked 6A field to win the school’s fifth state title. They earned the gold ball with a decisive 44-31 win over crosstown rival Norman North in the title game.
This season, Norman has picked up right where it left off. The Tigers won nine of their first 10 games to start the season and have been consistently ranked in the top five in Class 6A.
A big reason for their continued success has been the play of Washington, a feisty 5-6 junior who has the knack of bringing out the best in her teammates.
“My role is to create the tempo, make sure my defense is solid, and make sure I’m getting open shots for my teammates,” said Washington. “Just be the energy of the team.”
“She’s definitely our engine,” said Norman head coach Michael Neal. “She’s the ultimate competitor. She wears it on her sleeve and everyone around her feeds off of it.”
Washington’s favorite player is NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook and like the former Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, she knows how to fill out a stat sheet. This season she’s averaging 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals per game.
“She’s always looking to try to playmake and make everyone else’s job easier,” added Neal, who is in his sixth season at the Tigers helm. “I’ve never had that luxury before in all the years that I’ve been here. I’m very fortunate to have Kelbie and it’s a pleasure to have her on my team.”
Basketball isn’t the only sport Washington excels in. She’s also a sprinter on the Norman track squad and a member of the Tiger soccer team.
“In the spring I do soccer and track at the same time, but AAU basketball also starts around that time, so I’m very busy,” remarked Washington. “Basketball is what I want to do in college, though, so I have to make sure I get in the gym.”
Despite her busy athletic schedule, Washington is also an honors student who manages to maintain an impressive 3.98 GPA.
“I’m really strict with my grades,” admitted Washington. “I need to be on top of it.”
It’s no surprise Washington is a success in the classroom and on the basketball court. Her next goal is to help lead the Tigers back to the state tournament for an opportunity to defend their state title.
“Our goal is not to just get there, really,” claimed Washington. “Up and downs may come but we just have to stay together as a team, and just have fun.”
“That’s why we do it. To have fun and to compete.”
Washington and the rest of the Norman Tigers look to claim another victory this week when they play host to Southmoore live on Ford Game of the Week, YurView Cox channel 3 on Tuesday, January 21st, starting at 6pm. Both the boys and girls games will also be streamed on Yurview.com.