TULSA — It was not a classic.
One team made 1 of 14 3-point attempts and that team won.
However, it’s all right.
The quality of the basketball is not the issue once you get to the final game. There, it’s about coming out on top, one way or another, and Norman High did it Saturday afternoon.
Also, it was no classic because both teams made it so hard on each other. NHS won, yet both defenses prevailed.
Norman North coach Rory Hamilton thought his team might have been a little tired by the end.
Yet if it was, it remains a tribute to the Tigers, who played the same amount of basketball, one of their state tourney games going off at 9 a.m., and still they had what it took to triumph 44-31.
More important to somebody who’s been watching these programs since one high school became two in 1997, might be the poetic perfection of the player whose foot on the gas allowed NHS to pull away, that and one of the best quotes ever offered following a state-championship victory.
Christina Shadid, who put up one shot and only played a few minutes, but who is still going to St. Mary’s College next fall, across the street from Notre Dame, to play college basketball, had the quote.
“It’s the best feeling,” she said. “I didn’t know there was a feeling like this in the world.”
It was Turner Mattingly, who it seems has been playing basketball at NHS since Bill Clinton was president, who put her foot on the gas.
Not to take anything away from sophomore post Kendra Gillispie, who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, who was instrumental and likely the player of the whole tourney, but she has two more seasons to do it all over again.
Mattingly had Saturday.
Her moment began the first minute of the third quarter.
Because stats are kept professionally for games played at the Mabee Center — a treat for those covering them — an official play-by-play of the title game exists and here’s what it said:
“GOOD! JUMPER by MATTINGLY, Turner.”
It came with a time signature, too — 7:28 — and it tied the game at 19, yet the description gave the shot no justice, because here’s the thing about it:
Mattingly forced it. She was covered like a blanket. Somehow, though, she got it up and off the board and it found its way into the basket.
It was worth only two points but given the difficulty of the attempt and the source, Mattingly, who ceded prime mover status in the program some time ago to all the young talent that has NHS looking at dynasty possibilities, if felt more like five or six points than two.
What a shot.
Two minutes later she rebounded a missed 3 from Mikayla Parks and put it back in. Then she missed a shot and then she made one that gave the Tigers their first nine-point advantage.
In the fourth quarter Mattingly grabbed a couple rebounds and gave NHS its first double-digit lead, making two free throws with 1:11 remaining.
All eight of her points and three of her four rebounds came in the second half. And that first crazy bucket began a 6-0 run, after which North did not tie nor lead again.
She’s played so many sports — soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis — for NHS and, just maybe, at one time or another in all but the last, she’s been the best player on her team.
She has done it all.
Saturday, she began the push that gave her team its first state championship in 14 years.
She deserved it.
She had a pretty great quote, too, about the shot that began the push, the crazy one that found a home.
“Sometimes it falls in your favor,” she said. “It was my turn that time.”
It was Turner Mattingly’s turn.
And because it was, it was her team’s turn, too.
Now the Tigers can win two in a row, or three. Or maybe they just win the one, it’s hard to know the future, before this super-crop of young talent moves along just as Mattingly will be moving along.
Whatever, be it the first state championship or the only one for the group, it will have begun or happened thanks to a huge assist from a player who’d valiantly played through the lean seasons, who just kept coming, who never quit.
The championship belongs to all of them, of course.
It belongs to Myka Perry and Parks, the freshmen with amazing futures. And to Gillispie, who’s getting Division I Power 5 Conference offers years before she can sign for one of them, and to Kelbie Washington, the sophomore point guard, who’s a bit like Mattingly, shuttling between sports, both soccer and track this spring, she said after the game.
It belongs to Mattingly’s classmates, too, the seniors, Shadid, Makiyah Lyons and Tayshia Twitty.
Still, none of it happens without one fantastic and personal storybook ending authored by only one of them.
Good for her.
Good for the Tigers.