NORMAN — The physical history of the contests between eighth-ranked Norman North and Edmond Memorial, which have played three times already this season, is well-documented. Every game has been a low-scoring and rough defensive game.
And an ugly incident at the end of the second meeting, a 48-39 North victory in the semifinals of the East Central Tournament on Jan. 11, hasn’t been forgotten. In that game, North junior Bri Kuestersteffen said an Edmond Memorial player hit her from behind as the game ended.
The confrontation marred the game and set the tone for what was a physical rematch at Edmond Memorial a few weeks later, a game that North pulled out 31-28 in the final minute.
While the Timberwolves haven’t forgotten what happened, coach Jeff Blough said he doesn’t expect it to carry over.
“I think it’s water under the bridge at this point,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a physical game, but we’re ready for that.”
Patience keying North offense: While North has shown the ability to push the ball in the open court, it was the opposite approach that led to success for the Timberwolves in Saturday’s regional championship.
North had several possessions last for more than a minute as the T-Wolves moved the ball around the perimeter and waited until they were able to get exactly what they wanted. It’s a strategy that paid dividends Saturday and one North will look to utilize again against Edmond Memorial tonight.
“We were very patient on offense and let the shots come to us,” Kuestersteffen said after Saturday’s game. “When we do that, our offense runs very smoothly and we get good shots.”
Noble looking for upset: Noble (12-13) is two wins away from the Class 5A state tournament, and the Bears will have to pull off an upset this weekend to get there.
Luckily for Noble, that’s something the Bears have proven they can do.
If Noble can beat Skiatook (10-13) in today’s 8 p.m. game at Sapulpa, the Bears will face the loser of Tulsa Edison and Coweta, Class 5A’s fifth- and sixth-ranked teams, respectively, for a shot at the state tournament.
While Noble hasn’t played either team, the Bears have proven this season that they have what it takes to upset some of Class 5A’s top teams. Noble defeated No. 10 El Reno 53-51 in overtime early in the season, and repeated the feat with a 44-42 win over El Reno in January’s Anadarko tournament. The Bears also upset eighth-ranked Piedmont 50-45 three weeks ago.
For the Bears to make the state tournament, they’ll need one more upset.
Fatigue a factor for NHS? When Norman High last met Southmoore on Jan. 29, coach Nichole Copeland opted to keep her starters in for almost the entire game. In fact, the only substitution of the game came when Bethany Cox picked up her fourth foul in the fourth quarter.
While the strategy was largely effective for NHS, which was down just a point before Cox’s fourth foul but went on to lose 56-43.
The downside was that by the end of the game the Tigers who played appeared exhausted. It’s a risk Copeland will have to manage if she opts for a similar strategy when the two teams meet today at Choctaw.
“That game I felt like we couldn’t really afford to sub much,” she said. “Our legs may have been a little tired by the end, and it’s something to manage.”