Behind a late steal and score from standout guard and senior leader Kamri Heath, the Edmond North Lady Huskies bested the previously-undefeated Norman North Lady Timberwolves 50-48 Friday night in North’s Siberian Gymnasium.
“We knew coming in that it could go either way,” head coach Pete Papahronis said Friday night. “That’s a good team — 10-0 — but we already knew through our schedule that we can play with anybody. We got over the hump and won the game. That is going to be key for us, knowing that we can get over the hump and get the W.”
Center Graycen Holden had a crucial offensive-rebound-turned-putback to tie things up at 48. At the time, there was less than a minute of game clock left, and it seemed the points came on North’s final offensive possession before a hopeful overtime. Playing man-to-man, the Huskies let Norman North dribble out close to 20 seconds of game clock. They seemed poised to try their luck against the lossless T-Wolves in overtime.
But, Heath had other plans.
With under 10 seconds remaining, Heath absorbed a drive and crossover attempt, poked the ball away and ran the floor to beat the buzzer with a lay-in. It was her second buzzer-beating make of the night, after she ended a personal, 11-point first quarter with a made 3-pointer from the top of the key.
“That’s a play that you see on the ESPN highlight films,” Papahronis said on Friday night. “That’s something Kamri does. We’re thinking about getting a stop, being strong on the glass, and restructuring and getting ready for overtime. But she comes out and makes a phenomenal play.”
Though Heath’s heroics bookended the contest, an abundance of Lady Husky storylines were present on Friday night. Namely: Graycen Holden and Toni Papahronis.
The pair was just two of three other Lady Huskies to score on Friday. Fresh off claiming Mustang’s tournament MVP last week, Holden’s final, crucial, game-tying offensive rebound pushed her to 12 points. Her offensive ability was an issue for Norman North, using her footwork to power in five baskets on the night — two through called, foul contact. She was the defensive anchor, too, towering in the paint and leading a scrappy Edmond North roster that held the Timberwolves to just four points and 1-of-13 shooting in the first quarter.
Holden’s career-long consistency has come to draw those expectations, though. The final piece of North’s trinity-force came from a young freshman’s duel with one of the highest ranked rosters in 6A girls basketball.
“We’ve always known she’s a great shooter,” Coach Papahronis said through a smile. He glowed while talking about his daughter, Toni. It was almost like he had been waiting 15 years to answer that, specific question.
Norman North’s offense overcame that initial, heavy, first-quarter punch Friday night. They found a duet of made free-throws to start the second half. The makes tied it, and they set in motion a third quarter that saw eight lead changes and four ties.
Toni hit her second 3-pointer of the game a minute after, giving North a 3-point advantage at 24. Then, Norman North ran a miniature, 4-0 run that was then broken by a Heath 3-pointer. Edmond North’s Megan Jackson then took a bow, making a transition basket on an assist from Toni, just before NN tied it up again.
Toni Papahronis then answered twice, hitting two 3-pointers. Each came in possessions immediately following a Norman North tie or go-ahead basket, and the final came at the end-buzzer of the third quarter.
“Coming in as a freshman, these types of games and this type of competition is really tough on any freshman,” Pete Papahronis said. “Tonight she stepped up big, knocked her 3s down and kept us in the game — without those we’re in trouble.”
Toni Papahronis finished Friday with 16 points and three rebounds with four made 3-pointers. Heath’s buzzer-beating ender put her to a team-best 18 points, four steals and five assists, and Holden notched 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks in Friday’s win.
The win improves Edmond North to 8-4 this season.