EDMOND — Before Norman High tipped off against Edmond Memorial on Saturday, coach Nichole Copeland told her team they had every excuse to not play well. They didn’t play on Tuesday. They missed school due to snow for several days. They were playing an early afternoon game. She also told them none of those excuses mattered and that the Tigers needed a win.
NHS upset No. 14 Edmond Memorial, 55-50, on Saturday in a game that was played a day late due to the winter weather.
It was a gritty and much-needed win for the Tigers, who are playing for seeding when regional pairings are released next week. And it was a win that didn’t come easily. The Tigers fought back from an early deficit to take control of the game and then came out on top after a back-and-forth second half that saw the lead change hands multiple times.
“I think it shows we’re starting to grow up and figure things out,” coach Nichole Copeland said. “There were a million different excuses to not play well, but the truth is you just have to come out and play.”
The last time the two teams met the Tigers allowed the Bulldogs to pull in 17 offensive rebounds and steal the game. That was a focus on Saturday, and after a rough start in that department the Tigers turned it into a strength. They fell behind in the first quarter after Edmond Memorial scored 11 of its 16 first-quarter points from offensive rebounds or turnovers.
But the NHS defense changed the game in the second quarter. The Tigers stopped giving up offensive rebounds and clamped down on a Bulldogs’ offense that was playing without Andee Decker, who sat most of the quarter with two fouls. After a string of Edmond Memorial turnovers and three straight 3-pointers from Taylor Ely, the Tigers found themselves on top, 27-20, at the break.
The tide would turn in the third quarter after NHS’ Dari Hunter went out two minutes in with a knee injury. Hunter, who had provided the Tigers with several key rebounds and putbacks sat out the rest of the quarter while the Bulldogs outscored NHS 18-8 and took a three-point lead into the final frame.
That set up a wild fourth quarter in which the two teams entered the final five minutes tied. Neither team could provide any distance until Bethany Franks caught the ball in the post and was double-teamed. She turned and found Chandler Coale on the wing for a 3-pointer that put NHS on top 50-45. The Tigers hung on from there, hitting four free throws in the final two minutes as part of a 15-for-20 night at the free throw line.
Taylor Ely led NHS with 24 points, while Franks added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists in an all-around performance that gave the Tigers the inside presence that’s propelled them to four straight wins.
“We know that we kind of gave them that game back in December, so that’s been on the back of our minds,” Copeland said. “Our role players are starting to step up and hit crucial baskets for us, and I’m proud of our kids. We hit a stretch where we needed to play well, and we have.”
Edmond Memorial 79, Norman High 48: Norman High faced off against No. 6 Edmond Memorial on Saturday, and the loaded Bulldogs walked away with a 79-48 victory.
The Tigers hung with Edmond Memorial for most of the first half, but the Bulldogs pulled away early in the third and kept the pressure on to prevent the Tigers from getting back in it.
Cooper Clark led NHS with 17 points, while Julian Perriott added seven.
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