NORMAN — The Norman North girls won’t have to guess any longer on which night they played their worst quarter of the season.
It was Tuesday night at Southmoore and, aside from the SaberCats, a legitimate Class 6A threat this season, it was the biggest reason they dropped their second straight game and third in four tries.
Ranked No. 7, the T-Wolves (12-5) didn’t score a second quarter basket until Alexa Scott hit a 3-pointer 12 seconds before the half to stem a 21-0 Southmoore run that began with two free throws from Bailey Olsen in the first quarter.
North made just 1 of 7 shots in the frame and had only the seven attempts because they turned it over eight times. They did not attempt a free throw in the quarter and were doubled up on the boards 12 to 6.
From there, the T-Wolves had nowhere to go but up, and so they did; yet beginning the second half down 13 points was too great a hill to climb.
The T-Wolves were never any closer than six points the rest of the game.
“We were very flat,” North point guard Bri Kuestersteffen said. “We didn’t come out with any energy.”
T-Wolves coach Jeff Blough was dumbfounded.
“I think it was a lack of focus and how you cannot be focused against a top-five team …” he said, pausing to consider what to say next. “That goes back to us as coaches and we’re going to address it.”
Of course, the other half of the story was the No. 4 SaberCats (13-2), who have lost only to Anadarko and Northeast, the No. 1 team’s in both Class 4A and 2A.
Southmoore’s pressure had a lot to do with North’s problems — “I think we kind of freaked out,” Kuestersteffen said — as did the SaberCats willingness to play strong and physical basketball.
“We did not shoot well,” Southmoore coach Britney Kannady-Sayes said. “So what I was harping on was defense and rebounding. That’s what won the game for us.”
Actually, the SaberCats did so much rebounding (a 36-23 advantage) and forced so many turnovers (18 to their own 11), they didn’t have to play so much defense.
Sophomore Seritha Hawkins led everybody with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Kayla Tucker added 11 points and four steals, all the while keeping Kuestersteffen from getting any good looks in North’s half-court offense. Olsen finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
North’s biggest lead was 8-3 in the first quarter before Southmoore went on its run.
Nobody for the T-Wolves finished in double figures. Kuestersteffen led with eight points and four rebounds. Paige Canty added seven points. Scott led North with eight rebounds.
The T-Wolves have a week to digest the loss before playing host to Midwest City Jan. 29. A new ascension may have already begun.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” Blough said.
The SaberCats, riding a three-game winning streak that began with victories over Edmond Memorial and Midwest City will be the favorite at the John Nobles Invitational, beginning Thursday at Moore.
“We try to set the tone and the tempo,” Kannady-Hayes said.
They sure did it Tuesday night.
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