By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
EDMOND — Cooper Clark was having a magical quarter. Already he’d canned a quartet of 3-pointers in the frame when he lined up a 25-footer against Lawton Eisenhower’s defense.
It bounced away.
But if it had fallen …
The Norman High boys would still have trailed eighth-ranked Ike by a dozen points with about a minute to play in the third quarter.
That’s how good the Eagles were Saturday night at Edmond Santa Fe, where their 79-58 victory over the Tigers secured a regional championship and left them with two chances to win one game in the coming area tournament to reach the Class 6A state tournament.
The Tigers, still playing with house money after shocking Santa Fe Friday night on the Wolves’ home court, will hope to land another shocker or two as they attempt to reach the state tournament through the area loser’s bracket.
Where Santa Fe, a night earlier, was willing to live and die from beyond the 3-point arc, the Eagles moved the ball all over the court, made a killing on the glass and, when they did shoot from long range, knocked down 11 of 19 3-point attempts.
The Tigers led 7-6 early, but after a 3-pointer from Dominique Pierre made it 29-16 early in the second quarter, NHS was never again within 10 points.
“They play well together. They shoot the ball well, post up well, they rebound well,” Thornton said. “That hurt us.”
Making it almost unfair on NHS, Ike didn’t commit its first turnover until the third quarter.
An entertaining game because the Tigers never quit, the discrepancy between the two teams was vast.
Jamey Woods didn’t miss his first shot until late in the third quarter and, by the time it bounced away, the Eagle guard had already accounted for four 3-pointers and 22 of his 28 points.
Pierre hit 3 of 4 from long range and finished with 11 points. Douglas Moore also added 11.
Just as he had the night before, Cooper, all of 6-feet tall, won the tip and scored the game’s first basket, a 3-pointer from the left wing. Yet, it was his only first-quarter basket before six second-quarter points followed. Then came the third quarter, when he caught fire and almost single-handedly put the Tigers back in the game.
In those 8 minutes, he scored 18 — 6 of 8 shooting, 4 of 6 from 3-point land, 2 of 3 free throws — of his 29 points, his 3-point attempts seemingly coming from deeper and deeper.
“I felt pretty good just coming down the floor,” he said. “I had a rhythm in our offense.
Before the missed 3 that would have made it a 12-point game, the Tigers, led by Clark, had put together a 12-5 run after falling behind 54-32.
“He’s capable of doing that at any give time,” Thornton said of Clark. “I thought he played really well.”
The Tigers will now wait on their area assignment, which not only gives them at least one more game to play, but another week in the gym together.
“We got to extend our season,” Thornton said. “It’s good for our seniors.”
Them and everybody else who loves a huge upset. Because NHS pulled one off Friday, their season will continue beyond Saturday.
Follow me @clayhorning
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