By Chuck Reherman
For the second straight game, Yukon had chances to put together a fourth quarter comeback.
But, for the second time, the Millers came up on the short end.
No. 7 ranked Norman hit key shots down the stretch to turn back the Millers, 61-56, in a Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference game at Yukon.
The Millers, 0-2, had battled Norman step for step for 28 minutes, then saw the Tigers go on a 12-0 run that turned out to be the difference in the game. The Millers had tied the game 36-36 on an Austin Olea trey, but saw Norman go on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to take a 48-36 lead.
“We had a better shot selection in this game,” Miller head coach Kevin Ritter said. “If we can get better shots it will help our defense. For about two or three minutes our shot selection went down and that is when they got their run outs. It’s crazy how much more fun it is when you make some shots, the game comes a lot easier.
“We didn’t do a whole lot different from last game, we just picked a couple better shots and hit more shots,” he added. “Hitting more shots early helped. It was a lot better. I don’t feel a lot better, not as stressed right now.”
Trailing by 12, the Millers did mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, turning a Michael Clanton shot and a trey from Carson Price to cut the Norman lead to 50-45 with 2:51 left in the game.
A second Price bucket made it a 57-49 game with 1:25 remaining. Price hit a second shot after an Austin Henry bucket made it 59-53.
Norman’s Dayton Holman hit two free throws to run the lead back to eight. Clanton hit a trey with 17 seconds left to make it 61-56, and the Millers did get a other chance, but missed a shot that would have closed the lead to three.
The Millers did take the early lead and held the advantage through most of the first quarter behind the three-point shooting of Karsten Berg.
Berg put the Millers in front 5-3 with his first trey. Berg hit a second trey to make it 8-6 and added a third to open a 13-8 with 1:24 left in the opening quarter.
Norman used a Kolby Gibson trey and a Holman field goal in the final minute to tie the game 13-13.
Trailing 15-13 in the second, the Millers went on a 10-0 run to take a 23-15 lead. Henry had hit a field goal and a pair of free throws to take a 17-15 lead, then added a trey after a Price trey to make it a 23-15 game with 3:47 left in the half.
Norman answered with a 7-0 run on a trey from Ben Emmert to cut the lead to 23-22. A trey from Olea pushed the lead to 26-22 lead, but Norman used another 7-0 run to take a 29-26 lead. Clanton hit a shot to bring the Millers within one, 29-28 at the half.
“Norman was running a zone and we knew that was going to be a spot to hit and we worked on it in practice,” Ritter said. “We knew we had to get guys over there to catch and shoot the ball and we did it early. I wish we could have kept that lead through halftime, I think it would have put a lot more pressure on Norman.
“It was a good first half,” he said. “Honestly, if we would have played 32 minutes, we played a good 29 and a half minutes, it was just that two minute run that gave them a 10 point swing because we missed a close shot and had some bad shots.
“Our energy and our effort was a lot better in this game,.” he added. “We still have a lot of potential growth and hopefully we will continue to go in that direction.”
The Millers finished the game hitting 21 of 55 shots from the floor and were 10 of 19 from the three-point line. YHS was only four of six from the free throw line.
Henry led the scoring with 13 points, Berg added 12, Price 10, Olea eight and Clanton seven.
The Millers are playing today in the Durant Tournament.
YHS returns to COAC play on Tuesday with a road game at Southmoore and closes out 2017 at home against Edmond Memorial.
By Chuck Reherman