Edmond North pushes past Broken Arrow to repeat
NORMAN — The interview room in Lloyd Noble Center evoked a significant memory for Dylan Warlick.
When the Edmond North junior took his place behind the crimson-skirted table and spoke into the microphone, he recalled sitting in that spot a year earlier.
There, when he was a sophomore caught up in the grandeur of a fresh state title, a bold declaration had slipped out of his mouth.
“I said we’re gonna win two in a row, so I kind of put it on myself,” Warlick remembered.
Twenty-six wins and 364 days later, the Huskies made it happen.
In a showdown of the top-ranked Class 6A West and East teams, Edmond North emerged with a 58-49 victory against Broken Arrow on Saturday, securing its second straight state title. Only about five hours after celebrating the girls basketball team’s second consecutive championship, Edmond North was enjoying another repeat.
As the Huskies brought the gold ball to the neon-clad students in the crowd, tension suddenly turned into relief and jubilation.
The immense pressure had followed the Huskies (26-2) throughout the season. It didn’t even fade as they pulled away from Broken Arrow in the fourth quarter of the championship game.
“We were stressed,” junior guard T.O. Barrett said.
The reality of expecting to win a second straight state title sank in for Warlick throughout the season, and he said his nerves were higher this year in the state finals than they were during his championship debut.
“Expectations are difficult to handle at times,” Edmond North coach Scott Norris said. “But I think our team did a great job day in and out of preparing.”
Edmond North couldn’t let up against Broken Arrow (27-2), a team full of talented scorers, including Oklahoma State signee Connor Dow. But the Huskies, many of whom were sophomores when they won their first state title, maintained composure on the biggest stage again. Barrett led Edmond North with 17 points and three steals, while Warlick continued his pattern of double-doubles with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The champions had awakened. Broken Arrow led throughout the first half, taking advantage of early opportunities from 3-point range. Senior guard Justice Sutton finished the game with 14 points, going 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, while Dow logged a team-high 15 points.
Despite the Tigers’ energetic start, the Huskies headed into the second half with greater defensive concentration. After shooting 7 for 11 from the field in the second quarter, Broken Arrow hit only 3 of 12 field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies had swung the pendulum in the third quarter, using a 5-0 run from Barrett and Warlick to take a 41-37 lead, and they didn’t relent.
Although Warlick and Barrett led the way, they didn’t have to carry their team. TJ Strong added 11 points and went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line, adding the last point of the game. Dontrell Yearby carried out his defensive assignment against Dow. Tatum Ridge provided nine points, making all four of his fieldgoal attempts.
“I can’t say enough about the spark that Tatum Ridge gave us off the bench tonight,” Norris said. “Defensively, he got some deflections. Offensively, he scored at the rim. He gave us a huge lift first and second half, I think when we were a little bit tired.”
The Huskies won as a group, and they celebrated as a group.
When it was time to clear the court, Barrett carried the trophy, grinning and gesturing for his teammates to follow. The Huskies took off, running and leaping toward the tunnel.
When the pressure is higher, the celebration is even sweeter.
This year, there were no bold statements from Warlick — in 2022, he had actually said he saw the Huskies winning two titles in the next two years — so maybe their work is already cut out for them.
But Warlick isn’t looking to the future yet. As he, Barrett and Norris sat together in the postgame press conference, their smiles showed it all — they were relishing the moment.
“I want to do a better job of enjoying this one,” Norris said. “And I’m gonna go spend the week with my brand-new grandson.”