By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It’s hard for a roster to go much younger than Norman High’s. The Tigers started three freshmen Tuesday alongside seniors Taylor Ely and Chandler Coale and brought in two more off the bench.
The group showed exactly why coach Nichole Copeland is so excited about their potential, but also why having so many young players on the floor can be frustrating, in a 61-59 overtime loss to Edmond Memorial despite a career-high 36 points from Ely.
The Tigers experienced both the highs and the lows Tuesday. They built an early lead only to see a lack of rebounding put the Bulldogs back on top. But NHS stormed back to take a six-point lead with two points remaining ,only to see Edmond Memorial, with the help of several Tiger mistakes, come back to tie the game at the buzzer and send it to the overtime period, where the Tigers’ mistakes finally caught up to them.
NHS led 51-45 with two minutes left in regulation, only to commit a pair of key turnovers and allow the Bulldogs (3-2) to tie it at 51. It looked like the Tigers (0-2) might still escape with the win when Taylor Ely responded with a layup to put NHS on top with 10 seconds left, but on the inbounds play, Chelsea Kress found Avery Ogle under the basket for a game-tying basket as the buzzer sounded.
The Tigers were again in position to walk away with the win in the extra frame after Coale found Ely on a backdoor cut that led to a basket that tied the game at 59 and a free throw for the lead. But the foul shot fell short, and freshman Bethany Franks fouled Edmond Memorial’s Andee Decker, who hit two free throws with 5 seconds left to provide the 12th-ranked Bulldogs the winning
“I think the inexperience of being out there was part of it,” Copeland said of the Tigers’ late-game struggles. “But everyone on the floor contributed to that. They also all contributed to us playing a heck of a game. Every day we get a little closer.”
The freshmen, playing in just their second varsity game, were a big part of that. Franks recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Darieanna Hunter added six points and six boards as well. That provided enough for support for Ely, who got the Tigers off to a six-point first-quarter lead by scoring 15 in the frame. After a rough second quarter in which the Tigers gave up seven of the Bulldogs’ 12 offensive rebounds. Ely again caught fire in the second half, hitting several deep shots and providing the Tigers with big shots down the stretch.
“Taylor was unreal tonight,” Copeland said. “What I most liked was that every shot she had came within the confines of the offense.”
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