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Tigers play loose, set season high for points in win over Eagles

Jan. 12—The game clock had less than a minute remaining, but several players on Norman High's bench were still standing.

The Tigers had put on a show in their first game back home in nearly a month. They had built up a lead over 40 points and were on their way to a fourth straight victory.

Still, it was hard to ignore that Norman High was less than 10 points away from crossing the century mark.

The Tigers had their reserves on the court, but the group continued their relentless attack of the Eagles' defense. A corner 3-pointer would've put them within five points with 35 seconds remaining, but it missed, leading to a putback by Hunter Miller.

In the end, the Tigers would run the rest of the clock out as it held on for a 94-48 win.

Point guard Beau Billingsley said after the game that reaching 100 points was on the team's radar in the final minutes.

"Definitely," he said. "Every game we try to come out and put it on them every game."

The Tigers' 94 points exceeded their previous season high by 19 points.

Billingsley hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter and turned a blocked shot into a two-handed dunk by Trashaun Combs-Pierce on the other end. The Tigers, who led by eight points after the first quarter, built a 12-point lead at halftime before outscoring the Eagles 54-30 in the last two quarters.

"Getting everybody involved was probably the main thing — having fun and getting everyone involved.

Combs-Pierce, who NHS head coach Cory Cole said is only playing at 60% due to an ankle injury, looked as dominant as ever and was still throwing down dunks and protecting the rim at a high level.

Earlier this week the senior was named a McDonald's All-American nominee.

"He's the best Tiger of the last 15 years just doing some quick research and it's so hard to even get that nomination," Cole said about Combs-Pierce. "He's deserving of that, he's worked his butt off for it."

Billingsley credited the team's big win on their ability to stay loose and have fun.

The Tigers were rotating new players into the lineup early in the game and that kept the starters fresh and energized for the second half.

"We've got to make sure it's fun and that they stay loose," Cole said. "They play better when they're loose. That starts with me, making sure I don't get my guys too tight."

The Tigers' fourth district win of the season turned into a tune-up for a tough slate of games coming up next week.

On Tuesday, they'll host district-leader Putnam City West at 7:30 p.m. Putnam City West's only loss in district play is to the same Lawton team that Norman High beat on Tuesday.

With a win, the Tigers would remain in the hunt for one of the top seeds in the district in the closing stretch of the season.

Then on Friday, the Tigers will be the road team for the second Crosstown Clash game of the season. Norman North beat Norman High on its home floor in December, 57-47.