NORMAN — Norman North coach Jeff Blough said the biggest challenge for his team would be how they handled going from the “hunters” to the “hunted.” The Timberwolves entered Tuesday’s season opener against rival Edmond Memorial ranked fourth in the state and with high expectations, creating a pressure-filled environment to tip off the season.
The verdict? After one quarter, the Timberwolves looked lost, down 14-7 and playing flat. But by halftime, the T-Wolves began to
figure things out and by the end of the game they looked like the state title contenders they’re expected to be as they rolled a 50-35 victory over eighth-ranked Edmond Memorial.
“We came out really flat and didn’t guard anybody,” coach Jeff Blough said. “But when we calmed down and started playing the defense I knew we could we got back in it. It’s a sign of maturity that when we got down we didn’t flinch. We hung in there and fought back.”
The Timberwolves did it with more balance than they’ve ever shown. Seven players scored on the night, with Bri Kuestersteffen leading the way with 14. Most importantly, the Timberwolves’ role players hit big shots when they needed them.
Sam Landreth, known mainly as a defensive specialist, hit two deep shots in the third quarter as North outscored Edmond Memorial 15-2 to take control of the game. Paige Canty and Haley Woodard added seven, while Alexa Scott had nine points and seven rebounds.
Kuestersteffen missed several weeks of practice while recovering from a concussion, and Blough said that time allowed the rest of the team to grow more comfortable with the ball rather than always deferring.
“Sam hit some huge shots for us tonight,” Blough said. “We have a lot more girls who can step up for us now.”
North and Edmond Memorial met four times last season, with every game — including the final one that sent the T-Wolves to the state tournament - going down to the final minute. Tuesday’s game was a different affair, with Memorial dominating early but North going on a 20-5 run in the second and third quarters to take control.
From that point on, the Timberwolves were in complete control.
“The offseason was so long, it felt great to get back in action,” Landreth said. “Once we got down, we knew we had to pick up the energy and play the way we can on defense. We were a little shocked in the first half, but we played with way more effort in the second half.”
North will be back in action quickly. The Timberwolves travel to Durant for a 7 p.m. tournament game.
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