By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
Moore had them right where it wanted. Facing Edmond Memorial in the season opener, the Lions had the states top ranked team on the ropes and ready to deliver the knockout blow.
However, that blow never came and Moore fell 60-50 to the Bulldogs at Moore High Tuesday. But even in the loss, coach Aaron Howell said he learned a lot about his team.
"It's probably the proudest I've been of a Moore team," Howell said. "These guys came out. They stayed together. You see we go 10-12 deep. I can play anybody. I think the boys matured over the past couple of months and accepted their roles. That's the main thing, sticking together."
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lions found themselves down by eight points. But they went on a 8-2 run to close the gap 52-50. Despite having momentum on its side, Moore didn't score again in the final three minutes.
"I don't know what the problem was," Howell said. "If I did I would have fixed it quick. The second half we just couldn't get the ball in the hole like we did in the first half. The ball has to go in the hole for you to win and we couldn't get it done. They are very disappointed. They know that was their game. They just couldn't get the ball to go in the hole."
The Bulldogs were led by Shaquille Morris. The 6-foot-8 forward had a game high 25 points. Jordan Woodward added 11 before fouling out in the fourth.
Moore got a balanced attack with three players in double figure scoring. Sophomore Jaylon Wilson scored 12 points while seniors Maurice Davenport and Dorian Gigger chipped in with 10 each.
"I think we played pretty good, but it was mainly in the second half when we couldn't score," Gigger said. "We should have played a lot better on defense. On Shaq, we didn't play good enough defense. That's mainly my fault I feel like."
The Lions started the game playing exactly how Howell wanted. With Gigger having success in the paint, the perimeter players were dropping 3-pointers from all over. They held a 29-20 lead over a stunned Edmond squad in the second quarter.
But after Gigger went to the bench in foul trouble, the Bulldogs climbed their way back into the contest and tied the game at 36-36 going into halftime.
Moore went cold in the third and allowed Edmond to control the tempo. But the Dogs were unable to pull away and the game stayed tight the rest of the way.
"It's hard, because we wanted to win," Gigger said. "We wanted to go undefeated. We feel like we are a good enough team. We feel like we can beat them. Coming out losing like we did is just crazy."
The Lions believe they let an opportunity slip away from them in allowing Edmond to leave with the victory. They hope they can learn from it.
"We played real good tonight," Davenport said. "It's unbelievable. We played as a team. We got 10 deep. It's a tough loss. I feel we can be No. 1 in the state. It’s a confidence booster."