By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
ADA — In sort of a strange way, everything went right for the Norman North girls Thursday afternoon at the East Central Oklahoma Classic.
They missed a ton of fourth-quarter free throws, including three straight front ends of one-and-ones. And they came out slumberously, almost sleepwalking through the first quarter. And they beat the Pioneers 51-37.
Today, they’ll meet Edmond Memorial in a semifinal game seemingly worthy of the Big House or the Mabee Center, yet instead will be played at Ada High School.
Maybe North’s bad game is out of the way just in time for another top-10 matchup between the Timberwolves and Bulldogs.
“We had a long car ride in the morning and we had finals yesterday,” North point guard Bri Kuestersteffen said, “so I feel like our head just wasn’t in it.”
North was able to hang around early, with Kuestersteffen bailing her teammates out with a couple first-quarter 3-pointers. Next, the T-Wolves found Julian Mougell inside for six second-quarter points. Despite playing in a bit of a daze, North led 20-19 after 16 minutes. Not that it was near enough for coach Jeff Blough.
“We came out flat and unfocused,” he said. “That’s the most unfocused we’ve been all season.”
Blough delivered a halftime message.
“Basically,” he said, “that they had better get their rear in gear and they better get it together.”
They did, with a lot of help from off-guard Tia Williams.
Two quick fouls limited her time in the first half, but she came out in the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers, followed by an offensive rebound and put-back. Spurred by Williams, North ran off 16 of the second half’s first 18 points.
“I was more relaxed after I went out and came back in,” Williams said. “I felt better with my shot.”
Taking a 36-21 edge after a natural three-point play from Haley Woodard halfway into the third quarter, the game might as well have been over.
Thanks to all the missed free throws, the Pioneers got within 44-37 with about 3 minutes remaining. From there, North finally made some free tosses and Stillwater didn’t score again.
Kuestersteffen led with 15 points, three steals and three assists, yet maybe best of all, she captained an offense that committed three first-quarter turnovers but only two more the rest of the game.
Williams finished with 11 points. Mougell added eight. Alexa Scott led everybody with eight rebounds. Woodward added seven points and five boards.
Stilwater (6-4) got 11 points from Austin Iven and 10 from Lauren Stettenisch.
North (10-2) should be getting used to big game’s like today’s. Last Friday, ranked No. 11, the T-Wolves upset then-No. 7 Memorial 45-37 at the North Gym.
Monday, the T-Wolves found themselves No. 6 in the latest Class 6A coaches poll, only to fall that night at No. 7 Midwest City 45-44 in overtime.
So here they are today, with a 4 p.m. tip against the Bulldogs, now ranked 10th after losing at North.
“We definitely thought that was a respect game,” Kuestersteffen said, referencing last Friday. “But now the pressure’s on because we beat them once. I feel like if we play like we’re capable of playing, it will be a good outcome.”
Clay HorningFollow me @email@example.com
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.