Claremore’s Maddie Hardage hit two first-quarter 3-pointers, but the Lady Zebras couldn’t hold on in a 34-29 loss to the Lady Comets in the first round of the Bishop Kelley Invitational Thursday afternoon.

Rick Heaton/Claremore Progress

TULSA — The Claremore girls were hungry to stay undefeated to start to the season. Ironically, tipping off at Bishop Kelley High School right after the school’s lunch was served down the hall apparently didn’t settle well in their stomach in a 34-29 loss to the host school in the first round of the Kelley Invitational Thursday afternoon.

It was the first loss for the Lady Zebras this season. They will now play at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the loser’s bracket against the loser of Sand Springs and Tulsa Memorial.

A pair of 3-pointers by Maddie Hardage was the highlight of the first half for Claremore (2-1). It helped the Lady Zebras to a 10-6 first-quarter lead.

Maybe the early game time hindered both teams from getting into an offensive groove. While neither team was burning up the nets, the Lady Comets used Claremore’s scoring lull to catch up and tie the game at 14 with 1:25 left in the second quarter. A late Bishop Kelley bucket made it 16-14, and that’s how the first half ended. The Lady Zebras finished the first half with just six made field goals.

But Claremore came right out of the locker room and Emily Heard got her first bucket of the game to tie the score at 16. Breanna Farmer and Heard hit back-to-back buckets and the Lady Zebras were now up 20-16 with 5:06 left in the third, forcing the home team to call a time out.

That seemed to do the trick as the Lady Comets stormed back to take a 21-20 lead with 3:03 left in the third. They held Claremore to just nine points the rest of the way.

Kelley’s Macy Craig hit a 3-pointer to extend the Comets’ lead to 24-20 with 50 seconds left in the quarter. Meanwhile, Claremore couldn’t buy a basket. Kirstyne Stecker’s putback made it 26-20, Kelley.

Claremore managed a free throw from Hailey Grant and Claremore trailed 26-21 heading into the fourth.

Cloe Dennis popped in a 3-pointer off the bench and made it a 26-24 game with 6:56 left. A Grant charity shot followed which cut the lead to 26-25.

Just when it looked like Claremore would take the lead, Craig made an old-fashioned three point play to boost Kelley to a 29-25 lead with 3:25 left in the game. Another Kelley bucket pushed the lead to 31-25 with 2:20 left. And another made it 33-25.

The Lady Zebras were getting their shots, but still, nothing would fall until Abbey Cox hit two buckets in the final seconds for a final score of 34-29.

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