NORMAN — Friday night was more than just a statement game for Norman High, it was a statement game for one Tiger who had been overlooked by many.
Zac Grantham, a senior forward at NHS, earned the first start of his career against Moore, completing an improbable ascent. He didn’t see court time before this year, and was used sparingly in the first few weeks of the season.
That began to change a few weeks ago, when coach Matt Thornton noticed Grantham’s dedicated work ethic and began to reward him with playing time. His effort and play both improved even more since then, prompting Thornton to give him the start Friday.
“When they called my name in the introduction, I was shaking a little bit,” Grantham said. “I just kept working hard in practice and coach saw me shining and gave me a chance.”
Grantham made the most of it. He scored eight points and provided valuable interior defense against the Lions, complimenting Sam Blodgett in the post.
Grantham’s transition into the starting lineup marks a drastic change in the Tigers’ starting lineup. Whereas before NHS was a guard-dominated offense with Sam Blodgett serving as an inside threat, the Tigers now have a more balanced attack and a size advantage inside over many teams.
Grantham’s presence should alleviate some of the pressure from Blodgett, who faces double and triple-teams on a regular basis. And with Grantham’s ability to finish inside, guards like Daniel Harper and Cooper Clark have plenty of options for dishing the ball off of penetration.
It was a gameplan that worked effectively against Moore. Grantham and Blodgett were able to work effectively inside, especially in transition, and kick the ball out when the defense collapsed.
“They didn’t know a lot about me, and that helped us a team,” Grantham said after the game. “It’s like a little hidden treasure.”
Coach Matt Thornton was pleased with the way Grantham performed, and he was clearly satisfied with the way his rotations played out after the Tigers rolled to a 84-57 win over a Moore team they lost to earlier in the season.
“Things started to click and the kids played phenomenal tonight,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep this thing rolling.”
As for Grantham, he’s looking to continue improving. After a year of hoping just to get on the floor, he’s now looking forward to a deep playoff run, one he figures to be a vital part of.
“This win boosted my confidence and our confidence as a team a lot,” he said. “But we can’t take a break. We’ve got to keep bringing the energy to practice.”