By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
EDMOND — For a while it looked like the third time might be the charm for Edmond Memorial. But then Norman North stormed back after falling behind early, and the eighth-ranked Timberwolves were able to hold on late for a 31-28 road victory over Edmond Memorial on Friday.
North, which won both of the teams’ previous meetings by single digits, knew it wouldn’t be any easier on Friday.
“Playing a good team three times is tough, and it’s really hard to beat them every time,” coach Jeff Blough said. “But our girls came out extremely focused and did what they needed to do.”
What they needed to do was protect a slim lead late in the game. And while they weren’t perfect, missing three of their last four free throws, the Timberwolves were good enough on Friday. They came up with key defensive stops and rebounds in the game’s final minutes, and Bri Kuestersteffen and Alexa Scott hit enough free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Not that Edmond Memorial didn’t have its chances. With 45 seconds left, Jenny Roy had a running layup bounce out that would have tied the game, and Andee Decker missed a decent look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent it into overtime.
“We got some big rebounds there toward the end, and Bri and Alexa knocked some down at the end there,” Blough said.
It didn’t look like it would go that way early. Memorial jumped out to an 8-2 lead and frustrated the T-Wolves’ plan to pound the ball inside. The Bulldogs also started the game cold, particularly Andee Decker who didn’t make a field goal and went on to finish with just three points. But with four early points from Jessica Foster, Edmond Memorial was able to take the advantage heading into the second period.
That prompted North to go into its press, and the added pressure helped to turn the game around. The Timberwolves scored several easy buckets that seemed to open up the offense, and they continued that momentum in the second half.
Kuestersteffen led North with 12 points, while Scott added nine. Scott and Julian Mougell didn’t have the points inside that North would have liked, but the duo filled the lane and forced Edmond Memorial to sink inside. That opened up driving lanes for the guards, and Kuestersteffen was able to cut to the basket for layups several times.
A Kuestersteffen three stretched the lead to 28-22 with 4:30 left in the fourth, the largest lead of the game for either team. But North wouldn’t hit another field goal, and the Bulldogs clawed back before coming up just short at the end.
With playoff pairings already released, it was primarily pride on the line for two teams that had battled twice already this year.
“This was a big win for our confidence,” Blough said. “It’s a big boost for the girls.”
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