OKLAHOMA CITY — It wasn’t the start Norman North wanted, but the Timberwolves will take the finish.
North walked away from the third-place game of the Bishop McGuinness Classic with a win and a trophy after a 64-59 victory over Guthrie on Saturday.
After a lackluster and turnover-filled start in which North fell behind 13-1, it looked like the T-Wolves were feeling the hangover from Friday’s disappointing three-point loss to Edmond North. But the Timberwolves were able to shake it off when they went to their press and went on a 15-2 run to get back in the game and take a 22-19 lead.
They extended that lead in the third quarter by forcing Guthrie into numerous turnovers and converting them into easy buckets. The lead stretched to 13 points late in the third quarter, but the Bluejays wouldn’t go away, chipping at the deficit until the final minutes when they strung together several deep threes to threaten North.
And the same freshmen that carried the Timberwolves early came through for them late. Marcus Dickinson scored 12 of North’s first 14 points and hit four straight free throws at the end of the game after Guthrie had cut it to a one-possession game at 62-59.
“For whatever reason, Marcus was one of the few guys who came out ready to play mentally,” coach Butch Roberts said after the game. “I don’t know if it was a hangover from yesterday or what, but it took them a while to get going. But an ugly win is better than a pretty loss.”
But once they finally did get going, North showed how good it can be. Payton Prince, who was named to the all-tournament team, played probably his best all-around game of the season. He scored just eight points but he pulled down nine rebounds and handed out five assists. Several times he was able to draw in the defense before finding open teammates under the basket.
One of those recipients was Lindy Waters, who hit several big threes in the second half and finished with a season-high 24 points, while Dickinson also poured in 24 to go along with five rebounds and three assists.
Walking away from the tournament with two wins and a narrow but encouraging loss to Edmond North, Roberts said his team made clear progress over the weekend.
“The freshmen, those two guys have played in so many big games they’re light years ahead mentally than what their age suggests,” Roberts said. “Not much fazes those two. In a way, I think the juniors have grown up some to catch up to them.”
North doesn’t get much time off. The T-Wolves host Del City Monday in a make-up game that was postponed due to the football team’s run to the state title game back in November.
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com