NORMAN — No one has been more confident about how good Norman North would be this year than the Timberwolves themselves. But on the verge of their first state tournament trip in three years, which begins at 3:30 p.m. with a quarterfinals matchup against Tulsa Union at Skiatook, even the T-Wolves’ locker room is impressed.
“We knew we were going to be good, but we didn’t expect to get this far,” sophomore Sam Landreth said. “It’s been a great experience so far.”
North’s run to the state tournament has come without a loss. After winning a regional championship over crosstown rivals Norman High, the T-Wolves (19-7) punched their ticket Saturday with a come-from-behind win over Edmond Memorial (16-9) when freshman Alexa Scott hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 16 seconds left and the Timberwolves pulled away in overtime. Those two teams could meet for a fifth time this year in the semifinals Friday if both win today.
But first, North must go through Union (14-9), an athletic squad that has proven it can play with some of the top teams in the class. The Redskins own a win over No. 2 Muskogee and have close losses to other top-five teams in Bixby and Booker T. Washington.
Union presents some unique challenges for North because the Redskins put an athletic lineup at all five spots on the floor. The Timberwolves will have an advantage inside with Scott and Julian Mougell. The duo had some success against Memorial in the area championship and the T-Wolves will look to that again.
“Julian hit some big shots for us against Edmond Memorial,” Blough said. “She’ll need to do a better job blocking out and rebounding.”
Mougell’s not the only player Blough wants to focus on rebounding. After Edmond Memorial had success on the offensive boards, it’s been a focus in T-Wolves’ practice.
“That was something I felt like we needed to improve on,” Blough said. “We can’t give up too many rebounds against Union.”
Another issue that may crop up for North is one of nerves. Many of the players on North’s roster are underclassmen, and none have played on such a high level. But for a team that has been steady under pressure all season, it’s not something the T-Wolves are overly concerned about.
“We’ve been pretty chill about who we’re playing all season,” Landreth said. “I’m sure there will be that adrenaline rush, but we’re going to just try and roll with it. Then we’ll settle and play the kind of basketball we know how to play.”
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