MIDWEST CITY — The Tigers came close, but not close enough, in an upset bid Thursday in the first round of the Carl Albert Titan Classic. Norman High fell, 55-39, to No. 14 Muskogee in the first of three games at the tournament, a contest that saw them start off strong and hang with the Roughers until Muskogee used a second-half run to put away the game.
The final margin was 16 points, but the Tigers were closer than that for much of the way. After falling behind 16-6 after one quarter, they stormed back and played stingy defense in the second quarter to cut the lead to 19-18. They even had a chance to take the lead, but an errant pass gave the Roughers an easy layup and set the tone for the rest of the game.
Muskogee (8-3) scored six points in the final 60 seconds of the half to take a 25-18 lead into halftime, and built on that as the game progressed.
“We had it really close there and had played really good defense up to that point, but we gave up some easy baskets and they were able to stretch it back out,” coach Matt Thornton said. “That hurt us.”
What hurt the Tigers more was going cold from the field in the third quarter, when Muskogee capped off a 26-8 run to stretch the lead to 19 points late in the frame and effectively seal the game. Cooper Clark led the way for NHS (2-8) with 23 points, and Thornton was pleased with the effort he got from his squad, but the Tigers simply couldn’t match the firepower of a bigger Muskogee squad. Led by 6-5 Tramal Ivy, the Roughers dominated the paint and forced NHS to sit back in a zone to try and defend the lane.
David Beasley led Muskogee with 16 points, while Anthony King added 13 in a balanced effort. The Roughers’ deliberate attack against NHS’ 3-2 zone allowed them to wear down the Tigers as the game progressed.