NORMAN — When last season ended, it was with an air of hope for Norman North. The Timberwolves were returning nearly every member of a young team and looked poised for success in the 2012-13 season.
Thus far, they’ve found that success. The T-Wolves are 8-1 and hanging just outside the top 10 in Class 6A, readying for a home showdown at 6:15 p.m. today against No. 7 Edmond Memorial that should tell them just how far they’ve come.
But while North’s success may not have come as a surprise, the way the T-Wolves have gotten there has been nothing less.
Coach Jeff Blough expected to return nearly all of last year’s team, but when several players left to focus on other sports, he was faced with the prospect of another season of developing young talent.
It was a change of plans that threatened to delay North’s ascension to the top tier of Class 6A hoops. Led by returning starters Haley Woodard and Bri Kuestersteffen, the T-Wolves were sure to be dangerous, but competing with the likes of perennial state-tournament contenders like Memorial was seen by some as out of reach.
Inside the locker room, the T-Wolves didn’t see it that way. They knew they had talent and heart to compete, regardless of age and experience descrepancies.
Sophomores Paige Canty and Tia Williams have been outstanding on the wings for North, and inside the paint the duo of junior center Julian Mougell and surging freshman Alexa Scott have given the T-Wolves the balance they’ve needed to string together eight straight wins after a season-opening loss to Putnam City North.
Still, no one player has stepped up more this year than sophomore Sam Landreth. The consummate team player — she even describes herself as a role player — the undersized-but-overachieving forward entered the starting lineup for the first time against Norman High and has brought something to the table that the Timberwolves can’t do without.