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Leave it to Lainy

NORMAN, Okla. - The Norman Tigers were taking on crosstown rivals, the Norman North Timberwolves, and, with a minute remaining in regulation, Head Coach Michael Neal needed a closer.

"During that dead ball situation, I hear 'Lainy! Lainy!' I just kind of looked down the bench and everyone, the entire team's looking at me, like 'Are you gonna put her in or not?' Called her on down, she jumped up off that bench, and the rest was show time," said Neal, Head Coach at Norman High.

Lainy Fredrickson, cooler than the other side of the pillow, nailed the final bucket of the game.

That bucket led to the win for Norman High.

"I'm a superstar and that I'm a good basketball player," Fredrickson said of her big moment.

Neal knows no moment is too big for Fredrickson.

"After she makes a shot or even after she does something that's really spectacular in her mind, she takes a bow, so she bows and blows a kiss."

With the basketball court her stage, Lainy makes sure she's always ready for showtime.

She's in the Norman High Gym every afternoon, working on the shot.

"And, then, we'll do some individual workouts. And, she'll get on the wall and do wall push-ups or get on the ground and do some crunches and sit ups, just to get herself in Lainy Shape as we call it."

Lainy Shape has become the standard the Lady Tigers hold themselves to.

"Other than that, she's always in a great mood and, a lot of times, we allow ourselves to be consumed by all the extra stuff that doesn't really mean anything and not pay attention to what really matters in life."

Teammates, like Dari Hunter, know firsthand the power of Lainy's positivity.

"Whenever I'm down, if you see Lainy, she's always there to tell you 'I love you,' or 'you're beautiful' or anything like that."

"She makes practice a little bit more fun, even film sessions when you're watching film, she makes it a little more enjoyable," Neal said.

Fellow senior Bethany Franks said Lainy's light is not just confined to the gym.

"You know, high school's hard and just her energy, just saying hi, telling someone something nice - that changes their day. I feel like she helps people never forget those things."

You could say Lainy is onto something, her passion for the game of basketball and love of life is working it's magic out on the court.

For the first time since 2011, the Lady Tigers have double digit wins and will be hosting the opening round of playoffs, something the program hasn't accomplished in six seasons.

Senior Brennan Hockett sees the team's success linked to Lainy: "In the past years, we might not have always had a winning record or the best season, but I think this year we're playing well as a team. I think that's because Lainy, because she has brought so much energy and positivity to our team."

As a senior who has fallen in love with basketball, Fredrickson is not looking forward to graduation in May: "I love Norman High all my life, and I don't want to leave."

For now, Neal said the Tigers are just enjoying the season and the light Lainy brings: "You know, the moment she had here on that court kind of gave a little light to everybody. That moment kind of gave everybody a little sense that, hey, there's something good happening out there, and it's happening here in Norman and it's happening here in our Tiger basketball team."