NORMAN — How good are the Southmoore girls?
According to Norman North coach Jeff Blough, they’re good enough to win a Class 6A gold ball, and he ought to know after the No. 4 Sabercats’ 55-46 victory over the No. 8 Timberwolves Tuesday night at the North Gym.
“They’ve got bigs, they’ve got guards, I just think they’re as talented as any team in the state,” Blough said. “I think it’s between them and Edmond Santa Fe.”
North believes it can reach the state tournament, too. But once there, it might not look forward to having to meet up with the SaberCats a third time.
Anticipating Southmoore’s quickness led to missed easy shots when the the T-Wolves were fortunate enough to get them, as well as a general slowing down of North’s offense, which led to precious few such opportunities.
“We needed to move the ball more,” said North point guard Bri Kuestersteffen, who led the T-Wolves with 17 points. “A lot of the time we were just standing around and watching the player with the ball.”
Offensively, Southmoore has power inside in sophomores Serethia Hawkins and Kyeriah Hannah, and sharpshooting from the outside in senior guards Kayla Tucker and Kyra Gilbert.
The guards owned Tuesday night as Tucker and Gilbert both went for 18 points, the former hitting 4 of 5 3-point attempts and the latter hitting 5 of 10 from the field and 7 of 10 from the free-throw line.
The T-Wolves’ best moments came in the last few minutes of the third quarter when they turned a 41-29 deficit into a 41-35 deficit on a bucket from Julian Mougell, a bucket from Haley Woodard and then a steal from Woodward that afforded a last-second buzzer-beating drive to the basket from Kuestersteffen.
With 8 minutes to play, the T-Wolves were very much in the game, trailing by six points after being down as many as 14.
Their momentum left in a hurry.
Hannah began the fourth quarter with two free throws. North followed with one of its 19 turnovers (and one of its seven in the fourth quarter) and Gilbert, with range to burn, ripped her second 3-pointer.
The closest the T-Wolves got the rest of the way was seven points. When that happened, Gilbert followed with another 3-pointer, making it 50-40, shutting the door on North with 3:40 remaining.
At Southmoore, where North fell 45-33 Jan. 22, Blough didn’t think his team came out focused to play. This time around, it was the SaberCats who caused North’s problems.
“I don’t think it was from lack of effort,” he said.
Woodard added 13 points for the T-Wolves. Center Julian Mougell added eight on 3 of 4 shooting.
Hawkins finished with seven points and nine rebounds for the SaberCats, who didn’t allow an offensive rebound until North’s last possession of the first half. Hannah added six points and six rebounds.
“I think we played better than last time,” Kuestersteffen said.
Again, Southmoore was too good.
Follow me @clayhorning