By Buck Ringgold
JENKS — Edmond North girls basketball coach Pete Papahronis felt like his team struggled offensively in Saturday's championship game of the Jenks-Union Invitational.
On the other side of the coin, though, Papahronis liked the way his defense performed.
The Lady Huskies held Tulsa Union to eight baskets over the first three quarters while building a double-digit lead. Edmond North went on to prevail, 43-26, at Frank Herald Field House as the Lady Huskies remained undefeated on the season.
"We like to hang out hats on defense, and we think we're one of the better defensive teams when we show it, but that team right there (Union) is a good defensive team," Papahronis said. "You could tell they stifled us offensively, and we didn't play well at all, but good teams make you look bad, and I think their good defense made us look bad offensively.
"But on the flip side for that, our defense made them look bad offensively, too, so I think it was a defensive battle both ways."
The Lady Huskies (14-0), however, did lead the entire ballgame and they opened up an early 11-2 lead.
Another good thing about Edmond North's offense on Saturday was the Lady Huskies' propensity to manufacture buzzer-beating shots in each of the first two quarters.
The first came after a missed shot with time running out in the opening quarter. Edmond North's Kate Melton tracked down the loose ball near the corner and launched a desperation shot.
It reached the cylinder and spun around once before falling through the net, giving North a 17-7 lead.
"Kate, she gets those lucky shots in practice, too," senior guard Toni Papahronis said.
Then, with North up 21-14 as the final seconds ticked away in the opening half, junior forward Laci Steele grabbed a rebound and quickly went down the court in transition. She found teammate Allison Heathcock for the finish, giving the Lady Huskies a 23-14 halftime advantage.
"Big shots," Pete Papahronis said. "(On Melton's shot) while the other nine players stood and looked, she realized, 'Hey, there's a rebound, I've got plenty of time,' and she sprinted in there and made a great play; just a good heads-up play.
"Then at the end of the half, we got another one off the buzzer. That's a four-point swing; we went in with a nine-point advantage at half, so you take those two (baskets) away and we go in with a five-point advantage at half, so those were big plays to end both quarters."
North continued to key on the Lady Redhawks (10-3), and the Lady Huskies ended the third quarter on a 10-2 run to build a 33-18 lead.
"We focus on our defense and we believe that the scoring will come on its own," Toni Papahronis said. "We have enough talent on the team where the scoring will just come on its own, so what we need to focus on is defense and making sure that we don't let any easy buckets come their way."
Defense isn't the only thing the Lady Huskies spend time focusing on going into each game.
"Our two things we focus on is defense, which leads to transition, so we're always running out after we get a stop, where we're looking to kick it ahead and get an easy bucket," Steele said.
That was evident in the play Steele made to end the first half.
Steele led all scorers with 17 points and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"I just work really hard for my team," Steele said. "It's always a team effort; I do whatever I can to make sure this team succeeds."
Toni Papahronis, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, and Heathcock each finished with nine points.
TK Pitts, a senior, was Union's top scorer, finishing with eight points on the night.
Sand Springs 50, Putnam City North 33
The Lady Sandites outscored PC North in the second quarter, 15-5, in building a 27-14 halftime lead en route to the win in Saturday's third-place game.
Hailey Jackson had 12 points and Layne Kirkendoll added 10 for Sand Springs (12-1), which lost to Edmond North in Friday's semifinals.
PC North's Jasmine McCloud led all scorers with 14 points, and she made two 3-pointers.
Catoosa Port City Classic
Tahlequah 67, Owasso 41
The Lady Tigers used another hot start to eventually