Bryan Merritt is usually the one working hardest to increase his team's defensive intensity, so the Norman North coach was excited to see the players fill that role for him in the third quarter of the team's 62-53 victory Friday night.
The Timberwolves turned up the defensive pressure, which produced an 18-5 run in a win over El Reno in the semifinals of the Shawnee Invitational.
“I was happy that the team came out and did that,” Merritt said. “Tonight, I was so frustrated, and they picked me up, picked each other up and held them to five points in that third quarter.”
The team effort on defense produced similar results on the offensive end, with three players scoring in double figures. Marcus Dickinson led the way with 15, while Trae Young added 12 and Kairo Rutledge 10 in the win for the eight-ranked Timberwolves.
Norman North will face Stillwater in the finals at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Stillwater used a 19-point performance from Carson Teel in a 60-52 win over Sapulpa. Brett Budke added 12, and Trey Holcomb had 11 for the Pioneers.
MILLWOOD RALLIES, TOPS MUSKOGEE
For the second straight time in a semifinal game, Class 2A No. 1 Millwood fought back from a deficit in the second half to advance to the finals.
First, the Falcons did it against Harrah in the Bethany Classic two weeks ago.
This time, the Falcons erased a nine-point deficit to upset Class 6A No. 13 Muskogee 55-52 at Carl Albert's Titan Classic.
“We don't try to make it hard for ourselves,” sophomore Jaloni Friday said. “We just try to come out win and play hard. We try to make it easy on ourselves, not the other team.”
Ashford Golden had 21 points and Friday added 20, including the go-ahead basket with 1:50 remaining.