INOLA — One painful possibility occurred to the Lady Longhorns on Tuesday.
Could yet another last-minute surge by Chelsea spoil another commanding performance?
“That thought was going through my mind,” said Inola coach Rick Ott, whose team lost a heartbreaker when its game-long lead was squandered with seven seconds remaining in a Jan. 8 matchup with the Lady Dragons.
A Katy James floater at the 4:09 mark was enough to drudge up those memories as Chelsea used a 13-4 run to shrink its 13-point deficit to four after trailing since 1:31 of the first.
This time, the Lady Longhorns employed some last last-minute heroics of their own, hitting 9 of 17 free throws down the stretch to take a 46-36 victory in the final regular-season basketball game for both teams.
The Inola boys marked an easy, 81-44 rout to cap a pair of non-conference matchups at the Inola gym.
Both Inola teams face Tulsa Webster in the district tournament at home on Friday.
It was Sierra McSpadden who notched 20 points and hit the decisive last-minute shot for Chelsea on Jan. 8 to make the Lady Longhorns spectators through the final few seconds.
On Tuesday, it was McSpadden doing most of the watching.
The 6-foot junior managed only six points.
“I liked what we tried to do as far as keeping the ball away from McSpadden,” Ott said.
Her biggest quarter — a four-point second — came as Inola was working to erase a meager first period in which the teams combined for 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
The Inola triple threat of Kara Sanders, Bailey Gins and Kelsey Sears had a little something different in mind. They combined for 3 of 5 from 3-point territory, helping the Lady Longhorns to a 25-13 halftime lead.
Gins, who finished with 15 points, helped Inola to a 34-21 advantage before Chelsea began raining shots, hitting five consecutive looks.
“We got into a little bit of a lull mode,” Ott said.
The Lady Dragons used a trey from Bree Winters and an assortment of off-balanced jumpers, including a pair from James, to soften the Inola lead to manageable terms, 38-34.
Then, the fouling began.
Kara Sanders got the first try, hitting 3 of 8 free throws in the span of about a minute for Inola. Kristina Swanson and Megan Houck added a pair of free throws each.
That’s when the Lady Longhorns employed a hard-learned lesson. They kept Chelsea from even attempting a final-minute shot.
Through the closing four minutes, the Lady Dragons managed only four shots, hitting one. That came with less than a minute remaining — after the Inola lead grew to 41-34.
“We got some pretty good looks at the basket,” Ott said.
Inola hit 13 of 33 (39 percent) from the floor, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc. Chelsea downed 15 of 30 (50 percent) but was 0 for 3 from 3-point range.
Inola finishes the regular season at 11-9. Chelsea is 14-8.
Aaron Weaver racked up 22 points and Jared Cotton had 17 to lead the Longhorns past Chelsea in dramatic fashion.
Taking a 30-26 lead into the locker room despite trailing early, 7-4, Inola exploded for 51 in the second half.
“We kind of turned it up in the second half,” Inola coach Clyde Barkley said.
The Longhorns notched runs of 9-0 and 9-1 after halftime, led partly by Cotton, who threw in 14 through the final two quarters.
Inola knocked down 30 of 52 (58 percent) from the floor and 8 of 21 (38 percent) from 3-point range.
As the Longhorns consider the playoffs, there are some things needing improvement, Barkley said.
“We’re sick. We’ve really got the flu bug going around. We’ve got several guys affected,” he said.
Starter Alex Weaver missed Tuesday’s game with the flu.
“If we get healthy and get to where we were physically, we’ve got a chance to go on a run (in the playoffs),” Barkley said. “I like our chances, but we’ve got some really tough teams in our area.”
Inola finishes the regular season at 16-5 and in second place in the Will Rogers Conference, with its only conference losses coming against Verdigris on Nov. 27 and Jan. 15.
Chelsea finishes at 8-13.
INOLA 81, CHELSEA 44
Chelsea 14 12 10 8 — 44
Inola 18 12 26 25 — 81
Chelsea — Jordan 17, Terry 15, Captain 3, Sherwood 3, Ellick 3, Allen 1, Schuller 1, Hull 1.
Inola — Aaron Weaver 22, Cotton 17, Stone 12, Feemster 12, Hall 9, Elseman 7, Combs 2.
INOLA 43, CHELSEA 35
Chelsea 5 8 8 15 — 35
Inola 7 18 9 12 — 43
Chelsea — Green 9, Morrison 8, McSpadden 6, James 6, Winters 5, DeLozier 2.
Inola — Gins 15, Houck 9, Swanson 8, Sanders 6, Sears 5, Crane 2, Davis 1.