By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman North lost its season opener to defending state champion Edmond Memorial in overtime. Since then, the Timberwolves have been unbeatable. With a tournament victory last weekend and a come-from-behind win over Southmoore on Tuesday, confidence was high for the T-Wolves heading into Friday night’s Crosstown Clash.
And that spelled trouble for Norman High, which slowed but couldn’t stop North’s high-powered offense and attacking defense as the Timberwolves cruised to a 68-43 win in the season’s first Clash.
NHS (0-3) was playing just its third game of the season with an inexperienced roster, while the Timberwolves’ pieces all seem to be falling into place heading into the holiday break. North got production from its guards but dominated the paint behind the duo of Payton Prince and Kairo Rutledge. The two combined to score 23 points and pull in 11 rebounds as the Timberwolves owned the inside from start to finish. They out-rebounded the Tigers by double digits and owned a double-digit lead for most of the game.
“We had a lot of momentum coming into tonight, and that kind of takes care of itself,” said Prince, who had 14 points and six rebounds. “We believed we would come out and win, and we played with a lot of fight and intensity.”
Sitting at 5-1 heading into the holiday break, Prince said the T-Wolves still have their eyes on the end goal.
“We want to make it to state, and we still have work to do,” he said. “We’re taking some time off, but we’ve still got to be working and in the gym.”
The Tigers played well in spurts, but could never quite catch North, which forced the Tigers into bad shots while allowing NHS just four assists on the night, compared to 13 for North. Cooper Clark led NHS with 11 points and five rebounds, but was held scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter when North was up 17 points.
NHS was playing in just its third game of the season, thanks to several weather-related cancellations, a list that grew larger when today’s makeup game with Del City was again postponed due to the weather .
“Last year we had 12 games at this point, and this year we have three,” coach Matt Thornton said. “I think that’s hurt us. With an inexperienced team you just have to play, play, play. I think when we come back from the break and get some games in we’ll get going. They’re going to be all right; we played hard to the end.”
The Timberwolves showed again on Friday why they can be such a dangerous team. Ten different players got on the board against NHS, five players scored at least eight points and four had at least five rebounds. It’s a balance that the Timberwolves believe can take them to the state tournament.
“That’s our goal,” Prince said. “We talk about what we’ve got to do to make it there, and we’ve got 14 to go.”
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