EDMOND — One of these days the Norman North boys are going to take down one of the state’s heavyweights and maybe, after that day, all will be different.
That day, however, was not Tuesday, when once again, the Timberwolves proved just how good they might be when their time finally comes, even as they yet again could not quite get over the hump.
After a furious rally pulled North from 13 points down to just three, all in the space of about 2 minutes, fifth-ranked Edmond Memorial walked out of the gym with a 76-68 victory over the eighth-ranked Timberwolves.
The difference in the game was the trees in Memorial’s middle.
Christian Doolittle, the biggest one, finished with 27 points and seven rebounds. And he got help inside from Jacob Essman and Caleb McCain, who combined for 12 points and nine rebounds.
In concert, what their in-the-paint presence meant was the T-Wolves seemingly went the length of the third quarter without grabbing a single rebound; at least on Memorial’s end of the court, where the Bulldogs were scoring every time down, the only variable being how many attempts they’d need to get a basket or to the free-throw line, where, thanks to a large foul discrepancy, they hit 22 of 30 to North’s 12 of 14
“We weren’t tough enough,” North coach Bryan Merritt said. “No. 25 (McCain) is big, 21 (Doolittle) is big, 32 (Essman) is big. I thought those three guys just kind of bowled us over. Their big guys really hurt us.”
North was led by sophomores Marcus Dickinson and Lindy Waters, the former coming through with 27 points and four rebounds and the latter netting 23 and six. Trae Young added nine points, all of them in the first half and all but one of them in the first quarter.
The T-Wolves trailed 56-50 when Memorial’s Travis Glover began the fourth quarter by ridiculously banking home a 3-pointer. Next, Taylor Hicks, the Bulldog point guard who finished with 20 points, hit one the way you’re supposed to and the Bulldogs’ lead was 12 points. Back and forth it went until Memorial led 69-56 with about 3 minutes to play.
Over the next 2 minutes and change, Quan Hogan hit a pair of free throws and Dickinson hit two free throws, a 2 and two 3s. All of that brought North within 71-68, but that’s as close as the T-Wolves got. Not once did they have possession with a chance to tie the game.
It’s another near miss in a season of them for the T-Wolves, who have lost twice in overtime to Memorial and Midwest City, and three other down-to-the-wire finishes against McGuinness, Moore and Memorial.
“It’s a horrible feeling, just knowing how close we are and not being able to get the win in the end,” Dickinson said. “If we can just get our defense going, and be smart at the end … just the little things. Then we’ll get the win.”
Edmond Memorial girls 35, Norman North 28: The Bulldogs took advantage of a wounded and shorthanded bunch of T-Wolves, who were playing without leading scorer and point guard Bri Kuestersteffen, as well as Julian Mougel, their biggest inside presence.
Kuestersteffen suffered a concussion against Westmoore last Saturday, while Mougel suffered a sprained ankle the night before against Midwest City.
North led 20-19 halfway through the third quarter before going on an 8-minute scoring drought, over which time Memorial got out to a 29-20 lead. The T-Wolves got within three points, 31-29, inside the final minute on a Tia Williams 3-pointer, but could get no closer.
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