By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman High boys may have followed their worst quarter of the season with their 21⁄2 best quarters of the season; about 20 minutes in all that may well propel them forward down the regular-season’s final stretch.
Still, what it wasn’t worth Friday night at the NHS Gym was a victory, as Moore continued to add to a fine regular season with a 62-52 victory.
The Tigers trailed 16-0 early and 18-3 after a quarter only because Cooper Clark hit a 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining in the frame.
Then, the Tigers began to find their stroke, their rhythm and their fight, ultimately threatening to claim a most incredible victory.
“I was like, ‘Man, we can actually do this,’” Clark said.
On a night he finished with a career-high 29 points, Clark hit a 3-pointer with about 5 minutes remaining that brought the Tigers within 47-43. Then, with 4 minutes remaining, Clark hit another 3 and it was 47-46.
“I congratulated the guys,” NHS coach Matt Thornton said. “We dug ourselves a hole, but we fought back. I think we just ran out of gas there at the end.”
Then came Tiger turnovers — six in all over the final 8 minutes — a slew of free throws from the Lions and no more chances to get back in the game after Moore went on a 9-0 run.
Down 10 points with a couple minutes to play, NHS never got closer than six.
It was a loss, but if the Tigers can use it as a catalyst, it might feel more like a victory by the time the playoffs roll around.
“Every season is going to have a turning point somewhere. It’s going to happen sooner or later,” Thornton said. “And they’re finally starting to buy into some of the stuff we’ve said.
“I told them all along, ‘You have to be a blue-collar team. And I thought the last three quarters (we) were a blue-collar team.”
Clark had 19 points after the half, a trio of fourth-quarter 3-pointers, hit 7 of 8 free throws and led or co-led the Tigers with three steals, three assists and six rebounds.
Still, after having the biggest game of his prep life, the junior guard was thinking about the team.
“I think we came together more as a team,” he said. “We’re more of a collective unit after this game.”
After Clark, Michael Kish had nine points for the Tigers, who fell to 3-10 on the season.
Moore moved to 11-6 behind an extremely balanced scoring effort.
Dante Butler led with 15 points, Jaylen Wilson added 14, Diantre Cutliff and Brayden Powell both finished with 10 points. Justin Bean had seven and five assists.
Norman High girls 69, Moore 42: Don’t look now but here come the NHS girls. Friday night’s convincing victory over Moore made it five wins in seven games for the Tigers, who raised their season mark to 7-10.
Dominant from the start, NHS led 13-7 after and 30-15 after a half. The lead continued to build and a 23-point final quarter pushed the final margin to 27 points.
Shelby Thrailkill came alive for the Tigers to knock down 19 points, while Taylor Eli (17) and Bethany Franks (13) combined for 30 more.
Moore, which fell to 5-11, was led by Amanda Patterson’s 19 points.
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