DURANT — Norman High won the opening tip, and Daniel Harper brought the ball into the frontcourt. Just a few seconds later, he found Sam Blodgett in the low post, and Blodgett was able to easily back down his defender and score an easy bucket.
It was a very quick start to what became a trend for the Tigers, who were able to utilize their size advantage in a 58-43 victory over Shawnee in the semifinals of the Durant Lion Classic.
But while the Tigers were able to pull away in the win, they left something to be desired in the way they did it, coach Matt Thornton said.
“Offensively we were out of sync in the first half,” he said. “We have a habit of sometimes just standing around and playing the way they want us to rather than taking it to them.”
It was a small step back for Tiger team that played well on Thursday. A lack of transition defense and 14 turnovers by NHS kept Shawnee in the game and made it closer than it should have been, in the eyes of the Tigers’ first-year coach.
“It was an ugly game in the first half,” he said. “But we came out better in the second half and took care of some things. I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.”
NHS trailed for much of the first half before using a 7-2 run to take a 14-11 lead into the second quarter. In that frame, it looked like the Tigers might put some distance between themselves and the Wolves after 23-14, but Shawnee fought back to close the gap to 25-22 at the half.
“We were sluggish in the first half,” Harper said. “We weren’t in sync like we were on Thursday.”
But NHS was able to turn it around in the third quarter. Gaining a lift from seldom-used bench player Michael Kish, who hit two three pointers for NHS, the Tigers were able to open up a sizable lead.