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January 18, 2014

Tigers split pair with SaberCats

NORMAN — Southmoore coach Wes Brown called for the pressure. The SaberCats responded. The Norman High boys had no answer and that was pretty much that.

Looking for their third win of the season, the Tigers escaped into the second quarter with a three-point lead over their area and Mid-State Conference rival. In a blink, the SaberCats were on their way to a 60-45 victory.

“Rebound and pressure defense,” Brown said. “That was our game plan.”

Friday night at the NHS Gym, it worked.

The Tigers committed 12 turnovers, a fairly reasonable number, yet eight of them came in the second quarter, when Southmoore not only got all those extra possessions, but dominated the glass, too. From being down 14-11 after a quarter, the SaberCats were suddenly up 36-22 at the half.

It wasn’t even the turnovers that had NHS coach Matt Thornton upset the most. Instead, it was the rebounding.

“They just whipped us on the boards,” he said. “I’m going to say we gave up 19 second-chance points in the first half alone.”

He couldn’t have been far off.

In the first half, NHS (2-6) corralled 12 rebounds, while Southmoore grabbed 19, 10 of them off the offensive glass.

The ringleader was Justin Bean, who led both teams with 20 points, 13 rebounds and even three steals. A forward in a small but quick SaberCat lineup, he was constantly around the ball, either cutting to receive it or seemingly knowing where it was headed off the rim.

He had plenty of help from Chelvin Webb, who finished with 16 points and three rebounds, as well as Preston Smith, who added 10 points, eight boards and three assists.

The Tigers countered with 13 points from Cooper Clark, yet all of it in the second half, a time in which NHS was never any closer than 10 points.

John-Michael Bernardello added 10, but all of that came in the first half. Julian Perriott was active throughout and finished with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

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