NORMAN — A winter storm may have canceled school Thursday, but it wasn’t enough to slow down Norman North. Neither was Lawton, which wasn’t able to keep up as the Timberwolves kicked off the Class 6A playoffs with a 67-26 runaway victory.
Next up for North after Thursday’s lopsided victory? A third Crosstown Clash, to come on their home floor at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
No. 8 North (17-7) got there by jumping out early on Lawton (4-20) and not looking back. The T-Wolves opened the game on a 20-2 run, with Haley Woodard getting to the basket at will to score easy baskets while the Timberwolves’ press took the ball out of the Wolverines’ hands.
“We came out with energy and did what we were supposed to do,” coach Jeff Blough said. “We had good energy throughout and we came out fast because of it.”
The game was never in doubt, with North leading 40-10 at halftime while clearing out most of the bench. Bri Kuestersteffen led North with 21 points, while Woodard added 10 points and five rebounds. Ten players scored for North, as Blough began going to his bench in earnest early in the second quarter and had emptied it by the second half.
While the T-Wolves were excited with the victory, their minds were already on a looming showdown with Norman High, which pulled off a 44-38 upset of Midwest City in the first game of the night.
That sets the teams up for a third meeting this year. North has won both contests, the first a one-sided 61-38 win in late December and the second coming in a 56-43 win last week that was hotly contested into the final minutes.
Blough expects the same on Saturday. And while both teams will advance to the area tournament, the road to the state tournament is significantly easier for the winner.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” he said. “We’re obviously familiar with each other and know what they can do. It’s going to come down to who makes shots.”
For the Tigers, who are on a roll after last week’s encouraging performance to North coupled with Thursday’s upset win, Saturday’s game will be a mental one. Coach Nichole Copeland blamed a few late mental lapses for last week’s loss, and they are errors the Tigers are capable of fixing in the rematch.
“We know each other really well and it’s going to be about mental mistakes,” she said. “We’ll break them down on film and figure out what we need to do. The most important thing is we can’t relax, because that’s when we make mistakes. Right now no one expects anything of us. We just get to come out Saturday and play another basketball game. We’re emphasizing that — to just come out and enjoy it.”
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