NORMAN — Norman High wasn’t supposed to be playing tonight. The Tigers were the team that showed up to every game and played hard and stuck with the opposing team before losing late.
At least, that’s what the critics said. And it’s a script the Tigers flipped on its head with last week’s improbable upset win over No. 7 Edmond Santa Fe in a game that almost no one outside the Tigers’ locker room gave them a chance in.
Now, the Tigers will try to continue that story when they meet Moore at 8 p.m. tonight at Edmond North. The Tigers will need to win two straight games this weekend to advance to the state tournament, and coach Matt Thornton likes the draw his team has to do so.
If NHS (5-18) can get past Moore (16-9) tonight, the Tigers will face either Mustang or Midwest City to pull the state’s most unlikely run to the state tournament.
“We really like our draw,” Thornton said. “We’ve seen them twice this year and we have a good gameplan. We’ve played them close before. Our guys believe they can win and sometimes that goes a long way.”
The Tigers saw last week just how far that belief could go. As the losses piled up this season NHS never quit, something that Thornton praised his team for every step along the way as he preached getting better with every game.
And it paid off in a big way against Edmond Santa Fe. The Tigers started the game hot, but like so many times this year they watched their opponent creep back in and take the lead. But that game was different, and NHS stormed back to the 55-46 victory.
“It speaks a lot about the character of this team,” Thornton said. “For a team that’s 4-17 to come out like that, that’s them believing what we’ve preached all year long. It speaks volumes about their character.”