By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Julian Mougell stepped into position just as Chandler Coale left behind her defender with a nifty spin move. And when Coale squared up to put up the shot, Mougell was there, blocking the ball into the backcourt where Hayley Woodard grabbed the loose ball and beat everyone down the floor to lay it in and put Norman North on top 39-30.
The play capped a 14-5 run in the second half that put the Timberwolves on top of Norman High for good in a 56-43 Crosstown Clash victory.
After playing to a 19-all tie at halftime, North (16-7) took control with a big third quarter highlighted by Woodard’s breakaway layup, and held on in the fourth to earn its second consecutive Clash victory. The Timberwolves were consistently able to find lanes to the basket, and a hot shooting night from Bri Kuestersteffen and Tia Williams didn’t hurt.
Kuestersteffen went a perfect 4 for 4 behind the three-point line on her way to a 20-point, six-rebound performance. Williams, who didn’t even enter the game until the second quarter, added 11 points and made three 3-pointers in the road win.
“We knew it was going to be a tough environment,” North coach Jeff Blough said. “We knew they would lay it on the line and really get after it.”
Not that the pressure bothered North. After giving up the first basket of the game to NHS (8-15), North responded with an 11-0 run that put them on top early.
“We played good team basketball,” said Williams, who was playing in her first Crosstown Clash away from home. “It was a really fun atmosphere. It just kept us more pumped and more involved in the game.”
It was a much more competitive game than when the teams first met back in December, a 61-38 T-Wolves win. On Friday, neither team led by more than a few possessions until Kuestersteffen ignited North with back-to-back threes.
“A few mental breakdowns in the third quarter were the difference in the game,” NHS coach Nichole Copeland said. “One of the threes came on a missed block out on a free throw, and on the other, we lost her in transition.”
Despite the loss, the game represented progress for an NHS squad that was playing with an ailing Bethany Cox who missed Tuesday’s loss to Westmoore with the flu. In that contest the Tigers played “on an island,” as Copeland put it, and didn’t play as a team, an issue that manifested itself in the form of missed defensive rotations and missed passing opportunities on offense.
On Friday, the Tigers played as a cohesive unit, demonstrated by the fact that 12 of the Tigers’ first 19 points came off of assists, something that Copeland characterized as a step forward.
“I was proud of their effort tonight,” she said. “They looked to share the ball and they sold out to the game plan. It’s a step in the right direction.”
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