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January 26, 2014

Team effort lifts Timberwolves over Pioneers in Shawnee tourney

SHAWNEE — The last time Norman North took the floor for the championship game of a tournament, the Timberwolves watched in dismay as Bishop McGuinness hit a buzzer-beater to steal away the title from North.

Given a second chance Saturday in Shawnee, the T-Wolves made sure that wouldn’t happen. They took control of the title tilt against Stillwater early in the game and didn’t allow the Pioneers to ever get back in it as they cruised to a 78-57 victory.

It was a complete performance, and one that capped a weekend in which the Timberwolves returned to the form that led them to an 8-1 start. After leading just 17-16 after the first quarter, North took control in the second quarter with a 12-0 run and never looked back.

Much of that came thanks to Marcus Dickinson, who continued his aggressive play of the last week and took over the game, either by driving to the basket or finding open teammates for the dish. He finished the game with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists and was named tournament MVP after the game.

“Marcus is the engine that makes it go,” coach Bryan Merritt said. “He’s got the same game as Russell Westbrook; he’s just four or five inches shorter. Ever since that McGuinness game he’s been more aggressive, and that helps us in every way. He can go to the basket and draw contact or he can find his teammates.”

And on Saturday, those teammates came through in a balanced North attack. Despite playing without starting post Payton Prince, the T-Wolves found scoring all over the floor, and had five players score at least eight points. Kairo Rutledge had 15 points and six rebounds, while Lindy Waters had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

North also got a big game out of Trae Young. The freshman didn’t have his best shooting night — though he did finish with eight points — but made his impact felt in other ways. He had five assists and five rebounds and was instrumental in beating Stillwater’s full-court pressure.

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