NORMAN — For the fourth time this season, Norman North lost a game by a single shot, when Midwest City defeated the Timberwolves by three points in overtime in a top-10 showdown Friday night.
It came in a game the T-Wolves led by as many as 18 points, and one in which they had several chances to win in regulation before ultimately falling. It was another close loss for North, three days after losing by three points to Moore. It’s become a trend for North, but it’s not one that’s bothering first-year coach Bryan Merritt too much.
At least not yet.
“It takes time to learn how to win tough games,” he said after the T-Wolves missed their chance to upset the state’s third-ranked team. “They started a bunch of seniors tonight, and we started three sophomores and a freshman. I’ve got a young team here, and they’re learning from these games.”
While the Timberwolves haven’t pulled out a close win yet, there have been signs of progress. In the first game of the season, an overtime loss to Edmond Memorial, North rushed several possessions and forced shots at the end of the game to give the Bulldogs a chance to get back in the game.
Since, North has gotten further and further into games. The T-Wolves lost to Bishop McGuinness on a buzzer-beater and gave themselves several chances to beat Midwest City despite losing several guards to foul trouble in the game’s waning minutes.
“It’s a process to learn how to win those games,” Merritt said. “Toward the end of that game we had guys in who haven’t played anything but JV in there with the ball. And I thought our guys handled it pretty well.”
One player who performed particularly well was freshman Trae Young. Young had the worst shooting night of his young career in Tuesday’s loss to Moore, but bounced back by hitting six 3s against Midwest City. More importantly, he became North’s primary ballhandler after Marcus Dickinson and Lindy Waters fouled out, and helped the Timberwolves to fight through the Bombers’ full-court pressure.
While the losses are disappointing, Merritt said he doesn’t mind so long as his young team learns from the mistakes.
“I’m not in any rush,” he said after the Midwest City game. “I’ve been here for four months; I’m not going to rush anything. If we continue to show up and play as hard and as tough as we did tonight, I know we’re going to make it to Tulsa and play in the state tournament. I don’t know that it’s going to be this year or next year, but it’s going to happen.”
Follow me @Chosler88
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.