With the way Thursday started for Norman, it wouldn't have been a surprise if the Tigers packed it in against No. 13 Midwest City and gotten ready for next year.
Norman had lost six consecutive games coming into the Class 6A regional opener, one of its top scorers, Bethany Cox, was sick and the Tigers started the day out of routine, thinking the game would be postponed because Norman schools were out.
Cox played through it, though, teaming with Taylor Ely to give Norman almost all of its offense as the Tigers pulled out a 44-38 upset win over the Bombers at Norman North.
Midwest City will miss the state tournament for the first time since 2007.
Norman (9-15) advances to play rival Norman North at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the regional finals and clinched a spot in next week's area tournament.
“All year long, little things have killed us,” Norman coach Nichole Copeland said. “We'd be right there and then make a mental mistake or do something else that cost us. We didn't do that tonight even though we tried to give the game away at the end.”
But when the Bombers made a run late that cut what was a 13-point lead to just two, Norman responded consistently, making big baskets on the other end, hitting its free throws and coming up with big defensive stops to pull off the upset.
Ely (28) and Cox (14) combined for all but two of Norman's points, with a pair of Albany Anderson fourth-quarter free throws accounting for the only other points.
Ely and Cox combined for four first-quarter 3-pointers to help Norman build a 12-point lead by early in the second quarter.
“That was huge for us to get out to that kind of a start,” Ely said. “It really kept us going. We're pumped and ready for Norman North.”
Norman North beat Norman 56-43 in the regular-season finale.
“I told the girls, ‘You compete Saturday and go play,'” Copeland said. “There's no pressure on us at all.”
OLIVER PACES PUTNAM CITY
Jayden Oliver's 29 points helped lift Class 6A No. 10 Putnam City to a 58-50 win over Westmoore.
Putnam City lead by four at halftime, then blew the game open with a 19-13 third quarter to take control.