NORMAN — Norman High was just a few minutes away from victory. The Tigers had slowed the Lions’ offense and had made a few big plays, including a backdoor pass for an and-one from Sam Blodgett to Daniel Harper, to retake the lead at 40-36 with four minutes remaining.
58 seconds later, things had changed drastically.
Moore hit a pair of 3- pointers and forced two Tiger turnovers under their own basket, and what had been a four-point NHS lead was suddenly a 44-40 Lions advantage. After that surge, the Tigers could not climb out of the hole, and never got within a possession again in Moore’s 53-47 victory.
“That’s what our guys can do,” Moore coach Aaron Howell said. “Norman tried to slow us down a lot, but we were able to execute our gameplan.”
That gameplan involved forcing the tempo and attacking the basket, something that worked very well for the Lions on Tuesday night. Despite being pegged as a jump-shooting team, Moore was able to attempt 25 free throws in the game, and hit 17 of them. NHS, meanwhile, got to the line only 14 times.
That was the biggest difference in a back-and-forth game that saw the lead change hands a number of times before Moore was able to pull away in the fourth quarter.
Sam Blodgett led NHS with 13 points and 11 rebounds to record a double-double. The Tigers jumped out to an 11-4 advantage behind nine early points from Blodgett and were able to build a 15-6 lead by the end of the first quarter. But then Moore’s up-tempo guard play began to dominate the game, and the Lions found cracks in the Tiger defense to penetrate the paint and kick it back out to their three-point shooters.
“I thought we stuck with our gameplan early and played a tremendous first quarter,” coach Matt Thornton said. “But as the game went on we got tired and lazy. We let the ball get by us, which is something we talked about how we couldn’t let it happen. And as the game went on we weren’t able to take care of the basketball long enough to finish the game off.”
Thornton attributed much of that to an inexperienced roster, although there were positives even in defeat.
“I thought today’s game was much better than last week’s, and at times we were able to play really well,” he said. “We’ll get it figured out.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com