INOLA — On a night when the Old Grads returned home, on a night when the most successful basketball team in Inola history was reunited, the current editions of Longhorns took their turns in the spotlight and made the alumni proud.
In front of a nostalgic Homecoming crowd on Friday night, the Inola boys and girls swept Nowata for the second time this season.
Bailey Gins turned the basketball court into her own personal stage and she delivered a bravura performance, singlehandedly demoralizing Nowata, 55-32.
Things were a little more balanced for the Longhorns, but the result was just about the same. Jared Cotton, Zac Elseman and Tyler Stone combined for 43 points and Inola walked over the Ironmen, 56-36.
Following the boys game, which was played prior to the girls game, Inola saluted the 1998 Longhorn team that won the Class 3A basketball state championship.
Ten members of the squad were on hand and were presented replicas of their game jerseys from their coach Clyde Barkley.
Then, one by one, the 2008 Longhorns shook hands with the 1998 Longhorns, the team by which all others are measured in Inola.
Gins, a junior, will be measuring all her future games by the Nowata game from Friday night.
She stands only 5-foot-5, but she had a giant game.
She scored 26 points, made off with eight steals, and collected five rebounds.
And that’s just the beginning.
She was the only player on either team to score in every quarter.
She hit six of seven field-goal attempts, with her only miss coming in the fourth quarter, and connected on her two 3-point attempts.
She converted 12 of 15 free throws.
In the second quarter, Gins scored 12 points, making a combination of free throws, two-pointers and treys.
Defensively, she swarmed the Nowata ballhandlers and clogged the passing lanes.
Nowata was helpless against the Longhorns in general, and Gins in particular.
Before the starters made their exit with a couple of minutes remaining, Nowata had more turnovers than points — 30 to 27.
That had been a game-long trend.
Inola held a 10-7 first-quarter lead, built on seven Gins points, and Nowata had eight turnovers.
Midway of the second period, Nowata had 15 turnovers and 14 points, but did improve that to 18 points and 16 turnovers by halftime.
Late in the third, the Iron Maidens found themselves with 20 points and 21 turnovers.
Much of Inola’s overall success was due to its free-throw skills. The Longhorns scored only two field goals more than Nowata. They amassed the 23-point victory by hitting 22 of 29 free throws. At the same time, Nowata had but six free-throw opportunities, and made four.
The only area in which Gins did not lead her team was in the rebounding. Kristina Swanson picked up six to lead both teams.
In the first meeting of the teams, Inola came away with a 48-31 victory.
Just as Gins scored in every quarter, so did Cotton.
He finished with 18 points, but he stamped his signature on the game during a 20-second run to jumpstart the second quarter.
The Longhorns managed a tenative 9-6 lead after the first period, and neither team could find the basket in the opening two minutes of the second.
Then the 5-10 Cotton exploded for a close-in basket at 5:40, made a steal on the other end, and capped it off with a long 3-pointer seconds later.
That ignited the Longhorns. They ran roughshod over Nowata in the next three minutes, outscoring the Ironmen, 14-3.
Inola held a 25-12 advantage at halftime and pushed that to as many as 17 in the third quarter. Elseman dominated that period, scoring nine of his 15 points.
Nowata could never cut the deficit below 10 points, and the Longhorns went into the fourth quarter on top by 16.
Cotton kept the hammer down in the fourth, scoring seven points. He and Elseman finished with six rebounds apiece. Stone, who scored 10 points, tracked down five rebounds, as did Alex Weaver.
Cotton made good on six of 12 field goals, and Elseman dropped nine of 14 free throws.
In their first meeting, at Nowata, Inola posted a 72-49 win.
The Longhorns, 13-5, have won five of their last six starts.
INOLA 56, NOWATA 36
Nowata 6 6 15 9 — 36
Inola 9 16 18 13 — 56
Nowata — Maddux 7, Swalley 6, Reid 6, J.Truesdell 6, Renfroe 6, Mitchell 5.
Inola — Cotton 18, Elseman 15, Stone 10, Alex Weaver 6, Feemster 5, Aaron Weaver 2.
INOLA 55, NOWATA 32
Nowata 8 10 7 7 — 32
Inola 10 18 12 15 — 55
Nowata — Bridges 12, Hunter 6, Allen 5, Huntington 3, Summers 2, Renfroe 2, Noble 2.
Inola — Gins 26, Swanson 5, Davis 5, Houck 4, Sanders 4, Sears 3, Mathews 2, Price 2, Moore 2, Robinson 2.