NORMAN — When the Memorial Chargers are reunited with the Del City Eagles at 1:45 pm Saturday, the significance extends beyond Class 5A.
In all of Oklahoma high school basketball, it’s the most attractive match-up of the season.
“Yeah, it is,” Memorial coach Bobby Allison said, “and it has as much to do with the history of us and Del City as with what’s happening this year.”
In 2021, Del City was the Class 6A champion. Enrollment numbers required a switch back to 5A.
For both the Eagles and Chargers, credentials are dazzling.
In advance of the 5A championship showdown, Lenny Hatchett-coached Del City has a 21-game win streak, a 24-3 record and two elite junior big men (6-foot-9, heavily recruited Brandon Garrison and 6-6 Terry McMorris , who was the Tournament of Champions MVP in December).
Memorial has a 13-game win streak, a 26-1 record, a 6-6 star in Bradyn Hubbard, a fantastic point guard in Ty Frierson, a tremendous long-range shooter in Seth Pratt and a strong bench that features 6-7 dunk artist Jareth Ingram.
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On Dec. 29, in the Tournament of Champions finale at the BOK Center, Memorial bolted to an early 15-0 lead and seemed ready to dominate Del City. Instead, Del City chipped away during the middle periods, outscored the Chargers 21-9 in the fourth quarter and celebrated a 59-49 victory.
During the 2017 5A postseason, Memorial defeated Del City.
During the 2018 postseason, Memorial dealt Del City a first-round elimination.
In the 2019 championship game — as then-Charger twin brothers Kalib and Keylan Boone concluded their careers with a third consecutive title — the Chargers won 63-52 over the Eagles at the Mabee Center.
Two years ago, because of the coronavirus threat, the state tournaments were canceled. If the 5A tournament had been played, Memorial and Del City were on opposite sides of the bracket and on course to clash in the finals.
Any legitimate pound-for-pound ranking of today’s very best Oklahoma high school teams would probably include a top three, in no particular order, of 6A Booker T. Washington, Memorial and Del City.
It’s ridiculous that Booker T. Washington and Memorial didn’t meet during the regular season. What a game that would have been. Those two programs should be matched twice each season — a home-and-home arrangement.
In Friday’s 5A semifinals, Hubbard and Frierson combined for 49 points as Memorial eliminated OKC Southeast 75-50, while Del City was a 52-40 winner over Midwest City Carl Albert.
As Memorial plays for what would be the 10th boys’ basketball state title in school history and the fifth of the nine-season Allison era, the opponent in a high-stakes assignment once again is Del City.
“You know how Clemson and Alabama had their (rivalry) over the years? Great teams and great games. It’s kind of like that with us and Del City,” Allison said. “A few years ago, we had the Boone twins. Now, Del City has Garrison and McMorris — the best frontcourt duo since the Boones.
“There’s so much mutual respect with me and coach Hatchett. We really compete, but it’s totally respect both ways. It’s great basketball and great competition.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism