SKIATOOK — When Norman North advanced to the state tournament in Skiatook a year ago, the T-Wolves entered the quarterfinals favored to win. Instead, they were upset and exited the tournament early. It was a different story on Thursday, when North faced undefeated Broken Arrow in the opening round.
And North almost shocked the state.
The Timberwolves stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the second half and cut the lead to a single point in the fourth quarter, giving themselves several chances to take the lead.
But North couldn’t come up with the big shot, and a nearly three-minute scoring drought late in the game sunk the Timberwolves’ hopes of an upset as Broken Arrow pulled away for a 56-46 win.
Everything but the roster was different for the Timberwolves’ 2014 state tournament. Playing in the arena in Skiatook, a wide-open arena that North coach Jeff Blough said hurt his players last season, the T-Wolves gave No. 1 Broken Arrow everything it could handle. Haley Woodard, who turned in one of the less-than-stellar games of her career in a losing effort for North last season, more than made up for that on Thursday, scoring 16 on the night and carrying North while it made its third-quarter run to climb back into the game after being down 17 points.
The Timberwolves played with a full and healthy roster for the first time since December, and they showed what a dangerous team they are when at full strength. Tia Williams returned after nearly a month out with an injury and scored seven for North, while Bri Kuestersteffen ended a memorable career with 13 points and several huge shots for the Timberwolves.
But the Tigers, led by the combination of Toree Thompson and Amari Dennis, who scored 20 and 17 points respectively, pulled away after North cut the lead to 44-43 with 4:30 to play. Broken Arrow (26-0) held North scoreless for nearly three minutes and hit its final six free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.