MIDWEST CITY — Friday’s Norman High game was the polar opposite of Thursday’s. Unlike Thursday’s contest against Putnam City, on Friday it was the Tigers who dominated the boards. It was NHS that found easy shots under the baskets, and it was the Tigers that jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Most importantly, it was the Tigers who came away with the victory, a 62-43 win over the OKC Storm.
After a slow start doomed the Tigers in the opening round of the Titan Classic at Carl Albert, they made the most of the first quarter in the second round. Behind a quick four points from Bethany Cox, NHS jumped on top and didn’t back off.
The Tigers forced the Storm into three straight turnovers and took a 17-3 lead into the second period.
“We came into the game worried about what we needed to do defensively, and we took care of that today,” coach Nichole Copeland said. “Lexi Seburg really set the tone for us defensively on their best guard (Meredith Wolfley), and we fed off of that.”
Tying their highest-scoring output of the season, NHS was at its best as a team because every player played their role to near-perfection. Taylor Ely, in her third game back after an ankle injury, led the team with 28 points, including six three-pointers, and added six rebounds. Cox played an all-around game, scoring 11 to go along with four rebounds and six assists. Seburg played her typical tight defense and Albany Anderson tallied a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds.
That combination allowed NHS to cruise to victory. The Tigers led by 15 points at halftime and kept the Storm from ever cutting it to single digits in the second half. Mariah Haxton led the Storm with 16 points and five rebounds, but she was the only one to get into double digits for her team.
The victory sets up a meaningful 1 p.m. contest today against Yukon in the consolation championship. The Millers (7-7) sit a few spots ahead of NHS in the rankings, making the game an opportunity for the Tigers to move up in playoff seeding.
Of course, there’s also the revenge factor. It was Yukon that knocked NHS out of the playoffs last season with a buzzer beater after the Tigers committed a huge mental mistake by attempting to throw the ball in with less than five seconds remaining while Yukon was out of timeouts. That error allowed the Millers to steal the inbound pass and hit the game-winner to end the Tigers’ season.
Copeland said she didn’t need to provide much motivation for her team before the rematch today.
“It’s Yukon — enough said,” she said after Friday’s victory. “We will be focused and we’ve got to be prepared for what they bring. This is a chance for us to make a statement.”
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