By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — How much talent the Norman High and Westmoore boys are able to throw out on the floor will only be understood over the course of the season. Already understood, following Tuesday night’s season opener, is the idea that each squad should cash in no less success then it has coming.
That was the lesson from the Jaguars’ 68-58 victory, a game they led just 59-58 inside of 2 minutes remaining before the Tigers went cold one last time and the Jags just kept making their free throws.
Westmoore center Tripp Fuller proved he’s more than a brilliant mind, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds to go with the 34 he made on the ACT.
He was countered by Norman High’s Cooper Clark, who finished with 21 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter, when he went 7 for 7 from the free-throw line.
It was Clark who scored the Tigers’ final three points, all at the charity stripe after being clobbered beyond the 3-point arc, ending a fourth-quarter blitz that saw both squads answer each other at a furious pace.
During one clip, NHS’ John-Michael Bernardello answered Westmoore’s Landon Smith’s 3-pointer with one of his own. That was followed by a Westmoore turnover and two free throws from Clark that made it 53-50. Then Clark was answered by a 3 from Dakota Foster, who was then answered by a 3 from Clark. Maybe 90 second ran off the clock as the teams went back and forth.
On opening night, it felt like an area final, at least until the Tigers closed cold.
“We got so wrapped up in our emotions, we started making bad decisions and bad plays,” Clark said. “I made terrible decisions.”
Perhaps, but NHS coach Matt Thornton didn’t seem too broken up about it.
“Our energy level was really good,” he said. “I thought we just missed a lot of shots.”
Fuller tipped his cap to the Jags’ front-court, which he led. In addition to his double-double, DerVon Hill finished 5 of 6 from the field with 12 points, only two of them coming from outside the paint. To go with that, Landon Smith added 15 from distance, canning 4 of 5 3-point attempts.
“Our goal coming in was that if we could box out and get on the boards, we’d be successful,” Fuller said.
The Jags led 29-24 in the category.
Michael Kish, Clark and Bernardello each led the Tigers with four rebounds.
A well played game, NHS committed only eight turnovers, while Westmoore committed a reasonable 14.
The Tigers’ issue was a lack of offense very early, when they scored just eight points in the first quarter and were fortunate to trail only 26-20 at the half, and again at the very end.
“The ball just didn’t seem to fall for us,” Thornton said. “We just didn’t make plays when we needed to.”
Westmoore girls 56, NHS 42: The Tigers appeared to have a clear idea what they wanted to do against Westmoore, but the bigger Jaguars simply wouldn’t let them turn it into enough points.
Struggling to score throughout, NHS pulled within 40-32 with a quarter remaining, yet five Westmoore points to begin the frame all but put the contest out of reach.
Bethany Franks, a 6-foot freshman, led the Tigers with 22 points.
Taylor Ely added 11 and Chandler Coale finished with eight.
Callie Palmer led the Jaguars with 17 points. Sydney Chastain added 15.
Follow me @clayhorning
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