“Feel the wind in your face” – David Barrett
In March of 1989 I was a 17-year-old senior at Norman High School. I would turn 18 at the end of the month, but as my Norman High Tiger basketball career was winding down, we entered state playoff play. We thought we had a good chance to make a return trip to the state tournament in Tulsa. We were good enough to host a regional again, but we didn’t play well at all. We played good enough to beat Moore in our first game, but struggled and lost our next game against Putnam City North putting us in the loser’s bracket of Area.
In area we had to win two games in order to make the state tournament in Tulsa. We played well in defeating Lawton the first night and then beat John Marshall by three points (we had beaten them by three points earlier in the season in the annual McGuiness Tournament) the next night to earn our second straight trip to the state tourney. As Coach Robinson stated after the win over John Marshall, I was “oh for March,” before I hit the three pointer in the waning seconds of the game to give us that win.
We were heavy underdogs to a much more athletic Tulsa Washington team led by another future University of Arkansas guard, Clint McDaniel. Former Tulsa Rogers guard and future Razorback Lee Mayberry had ended our season the year before as I wrote about here in part 2. A much more athletic team, Tulsa Washington started slowly while we jumped out to an early lead that we would never relinquish. Late in the game, Coach Robinson had us execute our four corners offense and we made our free throws down the stretch to hang on and upset “the beast of the east.”
The next night we faced conference foe Westmoore for the third time that season. We had beaten them twice already during the season and that whole third-time thing got to us I guess. We lost to the Jaguars, who went on to lose in the championship game to Bartlesville the next night. I sat in the locker room after that loss to the very end soaking in my final few moments as a member of the Norman High Tigers. A few hugs among teammates later we were on the bus and back to the hotel, and my career as a Norman Tiger was over.
“It’s more than a contest, it’s more than a race.”
The 1989 OU Sooner basketball team featured two college basketball superstars in seniors Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock (both would be 1st round NBA draft choices) and continued to race up and down the floor at a record-setting pace much like the preceding teams did throughout the mid to late 80’s. The 1989 Sooners won another Big 8 regular season title that season, and finished the regular season 27-4, and lost in the finals of the Big 8 Conference tournament to end up at 29-5 heading into the NCAA tourney. They were a #1 seed in the tournament, but didn’t possess the same chemistry from the season before. Expected to make a final four run anyway, these Sooners were bounced by a Virginia team featuring Richard Morgan, Bryant Stith, and John Crotty in the sweet 16 by a score of 86-80. Virginia went on to be destroyed by eventual national champion Michigan two days later when the Wolverines pounded Virginia 102-65.
“And when it’s done, win or lose”
Those Sooners finished the season at 31-6 and I think got the most out of their talent. Might they have beaten Michigan in the next game and won the national championship? It’s possible, but Michigan was a very good team who had actually beaten OU on a neutral floor in Hawa’ii at the beginning of the season.
The 1989, #1 ranked Sooners’ run ended too soon. Led by two great Sooners the team just wasn’t quite the dominating team that it was the year before with Grant, Grace, and Sieger all gone.
“You always did your best, cuz inside you knew…”
I don’t think there was a lack of effort in 1989. Our small, at times, somewhat overmatched Norman team did its best and marched all the way to the state semi-finals and lost to a team we had beaten twice before. Maybe the rest of the guys had to go through that particular loss to get where they wanted to go in 1990 (the 1990 NHS team won the state championship and went undefeated… they got rid of a skinny white “chucker” and won it all the very next season! Lol.)
“That one shining moment you reached for the sky”
Even though the losses really stung at the time what I’ve learned as the years have flown by is that I appreciate the comradery, the friendships, the contests we went into together as a team. I look back so fondly on those days and those teammates. The good times and fun wins we had way outweigh the lows and the losses that we suffered through. Back then every day seemed so long. The practices were endless. It seemed like I would be a Norman Tiger forever. Turning 46 today I realize that those days, to quote “The Boss” – were “gone in the wink of a young girl’s eye.”
“That one shining moment you were willing to try”
Here is the third and final “One Shining Moment” from the 80’s. A 1989 montage that featured a sweet 16 loss by OU and a NCAA championship by Glenn Robinson, Rumeal Robinson, and the Michigan Wolverines. Hope you enjoyed my series, and I hope you win your bracket pool and you enjoy your…
“One shining moment…”
As always, thanks for reading.