NORMAN — Whatever else happened on Friday night, the Tigers made the Bombers work for it.
Based in no small part on Norman High’s inability to finish in the paint, Midwest City cruised to a 40-30 victory on Friday night in a game that was at times ugly.
There were 30 combined turnovers in the game and both teams had trouble scoring for most of the first half, turning it into a defensive struggle that ultimately benefitted the quicker and more athletic Bombers.
For NHS, there were signs of a hangover after coach Nichole Copeland was forced to play Tuesday’s game against Southmoore without giving her starters more than two total minutes of rest in that contest. On Friday, The Tigers came out flat, with the decision making falling a little short and the shots coming up even shorter.
“I know we expended a lot of energy on Tuesday but it was one step forward, two steps back tonight,” Copeland said. “We looked lethargic and discombobulated offensively. There was no sense of urgency.”
It showed up most prominently on offense. Despite forcing Midwest City (11-8) into six first-quarter turnovers and giving it up just three times themselves, the Tigers (8-11) couldn’t convert anything into points. They shot just 2 for 14 from inside the paint in the first half and committed several turnovers at the top of the key that turned into easy transition layups for the Bombers.
With that combined with how cold the Tigers were from the outside, the Bombers were able to hold NHS to just three points in the second quarter and build a 19-10 halftime lead.
“It was disappointing that we couldn’t seem to knock down any of those or recognize when we have three people around us and should pass it out,” Copeland said. “We’ve been in games like this all season, but if you can’t knock those shots down you can’t win them. It feels like we gave this one away.”
After the lopsided first half, the Tigers played the Bombers even in the second half, and twice cut the lead down to eight points. But Midwest City, led by Jasauen Beard’s 14 points and five rebounds, the Bombers answered every NHS run and kept the Tigers from mounting a serious threat.
There were some positives in the loss for NHS. Chandler Coale, frustrated with herself after a subpar game on Tuesday, performed well. She filled up the stat sheet on Friday, scoring four points to go along with three rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. But the most impressive part of her game to Copeland was her defense, especially in the first half when Midwest City tried to isolate her on the block and post her up.
Albany Anderson and Lexi Seburg also had a good night defensively, and Anderson was active on the offensive glass, pulling in nine rebounds to go along with eight points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
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