NORMAN — As soon as Norman North was bounced from last year’s state tournament in the quarterfinals, the T-Wolves set a goal for themselves. Returning every starter from that squad, they vowed to make it back to the state tournament and take it a step further.
They have a chance to take a major step toward that goal tonight.
No. 7 North will tip off against second-ranked Edmond Santa Fe at 6:30 p.m. today in Choctaw with a trip to the state tournament on the line. It mirrors the path the Timberwolves took to the state tournament a year ago, when they defeated Edmond Memorial in overtime at the area championship.
The state tournament dream won’t die with a loss; North will play again Saturday with a chance to advance with a win. But tonight’s game is still vital, because it offers North the chance to earn a higher seed at the state tournament, which is paired once the eight teams are determined. A win tonight also removes any chance for a misstep on Saturday to end the season prematurely.
“We know we have that game, but we’re not really thinking about the loser’s bracket,” coach Jeff Blough said. “That’s not how they want to get there. The talk’s just been about beating Santa Fe and taking down one of the basketball giants.”
The biggest challenge facing the T-Wolves may not be the fact that Edmond Santa Fe, a team that beat North in a summer league last year, is a loaded team that has lost just once this season. It could be the fact that North isn’t playing at full strength. Tia Williams, who, off the bench, consistently provided North with a scoring threat and the ability to break a zone, is out for the rest of the playoffs. Also out is sophomore Daisha Reece, who had begun seeing more and more minutes off the bench. And 6-3 Julian Mougell is still hamstrung from a lingering ankle injury, though she’s steadily improving.