High school basketball: Late free throws save Norman High in win over Edmond North

Joe Buettner / The Transcript

Norman High's Kelbie Washington (10) drives to the basket during the Tigers' Friday night game at Edmond North High School.

EDMOND — Kelbie Washington tried not to overthink it.

None of her teammates or coaches doubted her as she waited to shoot two free throws with Norman High tied 49-49 with 4.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

“It’s just shooting free throws,” she said.

Sure enough, the NHS junior point guard drained both shots to push her team past Edmond North 51-49 for the program’s 10th win this season.

6A's fourth-ranked NHS has already enjoyed six double-digit victories during its 2019-20 campaign but Friday’s close call against No. 5 Edmond North was just as enjoyable.

“It feels more good because everyone contributed,” she said. “We stayed as a team during adverse times.”

The difficult times certainly came and went for the Tigers.

NHS started slow but jumped out to a 15-9 lead after the first quarter. It then extended its lead to 31-21 by halftime behind Mikayla Parks’ nine first-half points.

The Huskies ignited their comeback in the second half, starting with a 6-0 run to begin the third quarter. They also capitalized on NHS’ offense, which couldn’t find much success outside of sophomore Myka Perry’s six third-quarter points.

“I think we got a little bit lazy offensively to where we thought we could casually get to the hole, casually get shots,” NHS coach Michael Neal said. “Then we turned the ball over. We settled. And a good team like that is going to make you pay in transition.”

Edmond North cut NHS’ lead to two points entering the final quarter and eventually took a 49-47 lead with 1:20 remaining.

After Edmond North claimed the narrow advantage, Washington quickly brought the ball up the floor, drove to the paint and tried making a reverse lay-up.

The acrobatic shot didn’t fall but NHS junior Chantae Embry leaped for the rebound, came down with the board and put up a shot that bounced off the rim a few times before going through.

NHS got the defensive stop it needed with ample time left, drained clock and Washington drew a foul to set up her game-winning free throws.

“I’m confident with Kelbie anytime she’s there,” Neal said, “because she’s been through it and she’s hit big-time free throws for us.”

Washington and Embry each finished with eight points. Mikayla Parks had a team-high 13 points and Aaliyah Henderson scored nine in the tight win.

“We just have to continue working hard in late-game situations because we were up in the first half and let them come back towards the end," Embry said. "We have to be smart with our decisions, focus on not doing too much but pulling out the win for the team.”

NHS returns home Tuesday when it hosts Southmoore at 6 p.m.

Joe Buettner


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