OKLAHOMA CITY — Norman High entered the Bishop McGuinness Classic looking to gain some experience as a team.
After three games, including a barnburner Saturday night against Yukon, the Tigers may have come out of the tournament weekend a veteran team.
NHS fought with the Millers in a back-and-forth third-place game on Saturday and emerged victorious after overcoming a second-half deficit to take control in the game’s final minutes and finish off the 66-62 win with poise. The Tigers hit seven of their final nine free throws to ice the game after building a six-point lead with 90 seconds left.
“It was huge for us to finish the game like that,” coach Matt Thornton said. “They did a great job mentally bouncing back from yesterday and we did a much better job hitting shots and taking care of the ball. We hit our free throws down the stretch, got the blockouts we needed and made the plays we needed to.”
Many of those plays came thanks to Cooper Clark, who overcame one of his worst games of the season in Friday’s loss to Bishop McGuinness by playing one of his best on Saturday. He scored his first points just 30 seconds into the game, and built from there, finishing with 21 points and seven rebounds.
It was a game of runs form the start. Yukon jumped out to a 16-11 lead after the first quarter before the Tigers went on a 15-4 run to take a six-point lead before watching the Millers respond in kind and head into the locker room with a 30-28 lead at the break.
Yukon (4-6) extended that lead even more in the second half. Thanks to a hot start from center Tucker Doyle, who finished with 23 and seven rebounds while dominating the Tigers (2-4) inside, the Millers built the lead to 39-31.