NORMAN — Norman North made one thing clear Tuesday night. The new-look Timberwolves can play defense, they can shoot and they can play with the defending state champions in Edmond Memorial.
But North couldn’t beat them, as the Bulldogs held on in overtime to defeat the T-Wolves 53-48.
In coach Bryan Merritt’s debut as head coach, the T-Wolves played stingy defense from the start, and made it clear they were a team to be reckoned with when they jumped on top of the Bulldogs 11-2. The T-Wolves cooled from there, but they remained in control of the game despite 21 turnovers and a free throw disparity.
That is, until sophomore point guard Marcus Dickinson went out with a sprained ankle. The T-Wolves took a 38-31 lead into the fourth quarter, but a quick succession of events changed that. Dickinson initially twisted his ankle while chasing a loose ball in the third quarter, and he tweaked it again on the T-Wolves’ first possession in the fourth, going down near midcourt while Memorial took the ball for a layup. That changed that complexion of the game, and with Dickinson out Edmond Memorial tied the game at 40 before his return.
It was a dogfight from there, and when freshman Trae Young missed at the buzzer it was onto overtime, where the T-Wolves’ mistakes finally caught up to them. They turned the ball over seven more times than the Bulldogs and were outshot 33-9 at the free throw line.
“There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds,” Merritt said. “We were too loose with the ball. When you get a lead you’ve got make the other team have to make great plays to catch you. We didn’t do that.”
It was a disappointing ending for the T-Wolves, but there were some positives in the contest. Merritt said he was pleased with the team’s energy on defense, especially in the first half, and the Timberwolves got a balanced scoring attack. Dickinson led the way with 16 points, but eight T-Wolves scored on the night.
The Timberwolves are off for the tournament weekend, but will return to the court when they travel to Westmoore on Tuesday.
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