Norman returns to title game, gets to face Edmond North
NORMAN — Edmond North hasn’t been in many tight games.
Before Friday’s 45-42 win over Putnam City West in the Class 6A girls basketball semifinals at Lloyd Noble Center, the Huskies had played exactly one game all season that was decided by fewer than 10 points.
Their average margin of victory was just shy of 35 points.
Edmond North got plenty of closegame experience against the Patriots, though.
From just past the midpoint of the second quarter until the end of the game, neither team led by more than three.
It wasn’t until Laci Steele’s free throw with 13.7 seconds to play put the Huskies up by the final margin that either team even led by as many as three during that stretch.
“That was crazy,” Steele said. “It was a hard game — offense, defense — nonstop. (They’re) great competitors. I’m just glad we pulled it out in the end.”
The game featured 13 ties and 11 lead changes, six of those ties coming in the fourth quarter as the teams traded blows.
“They were very patient,” Huskies coach Pete Papahronis said of Putnam West. “We thought they’d be more in attack mode.
“Maybe I waited a little too long to do it but once I felt like we went out there and started to guard them a little bit, putting pressure, putting little bit more intensity in our defense and sped the game up, I think that helped us at the end.”
In the final minute, Steele missed a shot under the basket and the Patriots’ Jazmin Adams grabbed the rebound.
But Huskies player fought for the ball, forcing a tie ball and giving Edmond North the possession.
A few seconds later, Elle Papahronis hit a pair of free throws that put the Huskies ahead 44-42.
Trailing by three, the Patriots had a chance to send the game into overtime when they got the ball back down three with 13.7 seconds left.
Putnam West called a timeout with 8.4 seconds left, then couldn’t get the ball to the perimeter for a shot at the buzzer, putting the Huskies back in the title game for the second consecutive season.
Sgteele led the Huskies with 16 points while Elle Papahronis added 14.
Adams led the Patriots (23-5) with 12 points.
North (28-0) will take on Norman at 2 p.m. Saturday in the title game.
The Huskies beat the Tigers 59-35 on Jan. 17 in a game in which the Tigers were without star Keeley Parks.
Norman 68, Edmond Memorial 47
Time ticked down and Norman’s Jordyn Rollins hoisted the ball over her head before delivering a series of fist pumps as the buzzer sounded.
The Tigers are heading back to the state championship game.
“We hang our hats on the defensive side of things,” Norman coach Frankie Parks said. “When we’re all tuned in and playing defense, and we’re all on the
same page, head on a swivel, making the correct rotations, it’s hard to score against us.
“I thought that happened today, specifically in the first half.”
That defense was on display in the final four minutes before halftime, as the Tigers finished the second quarter on a 12-4 run to take control of the game for good.
Norman’s season began with a loss to the Bulldogs.
“To one, stay out of foul trouble, which was the biggest issue for us, and two, that when things aren’t going our way, we have to stick together and be smart and make smart decisions,” Rollins said of the lessons of that early loss. “I think this game showed how we fixed that pretty well.”
The Tigers returned just one returning starter from last year’s team that missed the state tournament.
“As the season drew on, we figured out our identity and what worked for us and what didn’t work for us,” Parks said. “From that first game to this game, the biggest difference was we knew our identity. We could get the ball in the paint, get some easy buckets there and that was really the difference between game one of the season and this game.”
Norman outscored Memorial 34-16 in the paint.
Keeley Parks led the Tigers with 19 points, Nessa Begay had 17 and Rollins and Kayla Jones added 14 each.
Norman (22-4) is in the title game for the third time in five seasons. The Tigers won the title in 2019 and 2021. Memorial’s season ends at 22-5. Addy Johnson led the Bulldogs with 13 points.
The Tigers will take on Edmond North in the title game.
“Whoever we play, just play hard. It’s our last game, it’s the championship,” Rollins said. “Give it all we’ve got and plan to go win.”