By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Last weekend could have been the lowest point of the season for the Timberwolves. Norman North was without three major pieces of its team for a tournament in Miami, and could have easily folded to the challenges it faced. Instead, the T-Wolves found a way to win two games at the tournament, including a memorable comeback in the final game of the tournament that coach Jeff Blough described as something he’s never seen in his coaching career.
North, playing without senior Bri Kuestersteffen and Julian Mougell as well as junior Sam Landreth, was down 17 points entering the fourth quarter but staged a massive comeback behind junior Haley Woodard. Woodard recorded five steals and five offensive rebounds as she took over the game and North came back to win.
“Haley was all over the place,” Blough said. “With our two seniors out, it’s extremely important for us for her to step up and take over that leadership role.”
Woodard wasn’t the only one to step up over the weekend. Juniors Tia Williams and Aspen Knight, as well as freshman Crymson Rose, all saw increased minutes and were up to the challenge, drawing praise from Blough.
With the injury news out of North this week, the Timberwolves will need them more than ever.
Mougell is out for the rest of the season with torn ligaments in her ankle, while Kuestersteffen and Landreth will both be out of tonight’s game against Del City after suffering concussions in the last week.
The loss of Mougell is tough for North. The 6-3 senior was the first player off the bench and provided the T-Wolves with a dominating inside presence. Likewise, they lose more rebounding with Landreth out, as well as their leading scorer in Kuestersteffen.
“It hurts us in a lot of ways,” Blough said. “We have to go small, and we had some problems inside last weekend without them on the floor. And we’ll miss Bri’s ability to hit open shots and create her own. I’m not worried about our defense, and last week we were outstanding defensively, but we need to find ways to score.”
With those three out against an athletic and aggressive Del City squad, the responsibility will fall to the supporting cast around Woodard, who is sure to draw the Eagles’ best defender.
Blough has confidence the rest of the team has what it takes to fill that void while earning crucial experience that he expects to help through the playoffs and beyond.
“The kids are getting good experience, and we’re going to need that in the playoffs if anyone gets in foul trouble, and these minutes count for next year too,” he said. “Tia’s done a great job for us, and we’ve been leaning on Paige Canty on defense. It’s also good to see Crymson get out there with confidence.
“We’ve just got to go out and play.”
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