CATOOSA — The Claremore Lady Zebras went toe-to-toe with No. 1 Sapulpa for almost three full quarters Thursday night before taking it on the chin from the defending Class 6A state champions.
Sapulpa (25-1) used the 35-22 victory in the area tournament to advance to next week's state tournament at Oklahoma City.
Claremore, 22-2 in its first season of 6A competition, has another shot at making the state field. The Lady Zebras will play Edmond North at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Tulsa Rogers. Edmond North knocked out Edmond Memorial, 44-39, in the second game of the Catoosa doubleheader.
Alyssia Brewer, Sapulpa's 6-3 senior All-American, exploded with four straight fourth-quarter baskets. She led all players with 18 points. She was also forceful on defense as she blocked three shots while grabbomg eight rebounds.
Electing to slow the pace of the game from the start, Claremore stayed within three points of Sapulpa until the final 40 seconds of the third period.
Audra Skimbo layups twice tied the game for Claremore. On the second, she followed with a free throw and produced Claremore's lone lead, 14-13, at 5:03 of the third.
It was at that point Brewer took command of the game. The University of Tennessee-bound forward used a half-court driving layup to erase the Zebra edge, then turned a Claremore turnover seconds later into another two-pointer.
Sapulpa went on a 9-0 run before Skimbo managed to get a basket before the quarter ended. Clair Detter opened the fourth with a successful jumper and pulled the Lady Zebras back to within 21-18.
Suddenly Claremore could not hold onto the ball. The Sapulpa girls, Brewer in particular, made sure the miscues were costly for the Lady Zebras. Brewer's four straight field goals highlighted a 12-2 run.
The 22 points were a season low for the Lady Zebras.
Their lone 3-pointer came in the first quarter, courtesy of Mandi Walker from the right corner. Claremore shot seven more treys, but none found the target.
Skimbo finished with 11 points. None of Claremore’s starters came out of the game until the final 1:50.
Both of Claremore's two defeats this season have been at the Indian Activities Center.
SAPULPA 35, CLAREMORE 22
Claremore 6 5 5 6 — 22
Sapulpa 9 2 10 14 — 35
Claremore — Skimbo 11, Froese 4, Walker 3, Detter 2, Barnwell 2, Bowen 0.
Sapulpa — Brewer 18, Berman 7, Mercado 4, Courtney 2, Southerland 2, Robison 2.