NORMAN — Bri Kuestersteffen had been in this situation before. Fourth quarter of the Crosstown Clash, watching a Norman North lead slip away to Norman High. Last year, it was the Tigers who stepped up to the moment, closing the gap and eventually hitting buzzer-beaters to win the game while Kuestersteffen could only watch.
She made sure that wouldn’t happen again.
After NHS cut it to 40-32 with seven minutes left to play, the junior guard took over the game. She hit a running layup to score her first points of the half and followed that up with a three-pointer on the next possession. After securing a rebound on the defensive end, she came down the court and did it again. And again.
By the time it was over, Kuestersteffen had scored 11 straight points for the Timberwolves and put North back on top 51-36.
That was enough for North, and the T-Wolves opened it up down the stretch to secure a 61-38 victory and break the 27-game losing streak in the Clash.
Kuestersteffen led all scorers with 30 points, including six three-pointers. She also added four assists and three rebounds along with the late-game heroics.
“I was just thinking about how we needed to keep our lead,” she said. “My teammates set good screens and put me in great positions. It feels great to finally win this game; it’s what we’ve been working for all year.”
North took the lead early in a first half where neither team could miss a shot. Sophomore Alexa Scott found success in the paint early for North, scoring six first-quarter points while the T-Wolves built a 10-point lead.
But NHS would fight back. Taylor Ely scored 14 of her 18 points in the first half, and the Tigers stepped up their defense in the third quarter to claw back into the game. After a turnover-filled first quarter, they took better care of the ball and eventually closed the deficit to eight points before Kuestersteffen got on a roll.
After the hot start, the Tigers went cold from the field and had trouble.
Ely led NHS with 18 points, while Chandler Coale added 11 and Bethany Cox had nine with three rebounds and three assists.
The Clash victory was the first in more than a decade for North. It came after the Timberwolves lost both of last year’s contests at the buzzer after holding a lead in the final 10 seconds.
“This is a great win for the girls and for our school,” coach Jeff Blough said. “But the most important thing is that in the locker room the girls were already talking about the next game. That’s something I haven’t heard in a few years, and it’s a great thing for us.”
For NHS, which heads into the holiday break and the Mid-Del tournament next week, Thursday’s game was one they won’t forget soon.
“We needed this to humble us,” Cox said. “After the game, we talked about not being upset just because it’s Norman North. It’s another game, and we can use this as motivation to work hard in practice over the break. They played phenomenal and deserved the win. We’ll come back better for the next one.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com