MOORE — Norman High faced an uphill battle Tuesday night at Westmoore. The Jaguars entered the game playing at home and with a substantial size advantage with Callie Palmer and Kaci Richardson.
That hill became even steeper when the Tigers came out cold. They missed every 3-pointer they shot in the first quarter and didn’t hit one until just before halftime. But the biggest factor in the Tigers’ 59-42 loss to Westmoore may have been the foul trouble that Bethany Franks couldn’t seem to escape.
Franks picked up her third foul midway through the second quarter with NHS down seven points and was forced to sit out the rest of the quarter and much of the second half. Playing without their strongest inside presence and scoring threat, the undersized Tigers couldn’t keep up with the Jaguars in what turned into a physical and at times contentious game. The two teams combined to shoot 56 free throws and commit nearly 50 fouls in the course of the contest.
It was a bruising style that favored the more physical Jaguars (5-6), who dominated the paint from the start. Palmer finished the game with 18 points while also creating shots for her teammates when NHS would double down on the block. Richardson added nine points, five rebounds and five blocks in the effort.
“We let the officiating get in our heads,” coach Nichole Copeland said. “That’s the first time we’ve been in that situation this season. I’ve got to do a better job of keeping our kids focused. It’s a lesson learned, and we’ll get better from it.”
NHS (3-9) kept the game close early before the foul trouble began to catch up to the Tigers. They trailed just 11-8 after one quarter, but with Franks on the bench with foul trouble, the Jaguars went on a 13-3 run that put them in control of the game.
NHS actually enjoyed an advantage at the free throw line, and hit 22 of its 29 free throws, but it wasn’t enough for the Tigers to keep up with Westmoore. With NHS scoring just nine field goals on the night, Westmoore pulled out to a 26-14 lead and closed the game out by keeping the Tigers from ever cutting the lead to single digits.
Taylor Ely led the way with 26 points despite an off shooting night. She connected on 11 free throws and drew praise from Copeland as one of the only Tigers to enter the game focused. Franks finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in limited minutes. The rest of the team combined for just six points.
“We’ve got other players who can score, and we can’t continue to live and die by two people,” Copeland said. “Someone else is going to have to step up and want to score the ball.”
The Tigers will get a chance to get back on the winning track when they travel to Carl Albert for a tournament on Thursday. NHS will meet No. 15 Putnam City at 4 p.m. in the opening round.
Westmoore 68, Norman High 67: Even playing one of their better games of the season wasn't enough for Norman High on Tuesday, as the Tigers fell, 68-67, in a contest against Westmoore that was close from the start.
The Tigers got a season-high 27 points from Cooper Clark to go along with a balanced effort from the rest of the team. They entered halftime down 29-28 and went into the fourth quarter up a basket. But the Jags, led by 14 points from Tripp Fuller, managed to nab the victory in the final minute.
NHS will next play on Thursday at the Carl Albert tournament.
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