CATOOSA — The Claremore Lady Zebras didn't arrive in their pajamas and wiping sleepy eyes Thursday morning, but no one could have blamed them if that had been the case.
Playing at 10 a.m., in what might have been the school's earliest start ever, coach Mark Campbell's Claremore squad certainly answered the alarm clock as they rolled over Skiatook, 65-40.
The lopsided contest kicked off the 41st annual Port City Classic high school basketball tournament.
"Actually, the girls got to sleep in a little later today than if they were going to class," Claremore assistant coach Kandy Damron said prior to tip-off. "I don't believe the early start is bothering them at all."
Baskets by Audra Skimbo gave Claremore a 4-0 lead, a lead the Lady Zebras never lost.
It did take the entire first quarter before tournament-favorite Claremore was able to break free from the Lady Bulldogs. This might have been due to the long layoff due to the recent ice storm, instead of the early start. Claremore's last outing was Jan. 9 — a layoff of 16 days.
Up by only two points to start the second quarter, Claremore was leading, 14-13, before Hayley KnifeChief directed a 13-0 running attack to put her team in full control.
The 5-9 senior almost pulled off a rare triple double. She led all players with 19 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and nine steals.
Almost invisible during the opening quarter, KnifeChief connected on six straight free throws and had a lay-up following a steal in the second period. Claremore's 24 points doubled the opponents' scoring during the eight-minute quarter.
The Froese sisters, senior Lauren and sophomore Logan, accounted for 12 points during the run. Lauren sandwiched a three-pointer with two shorter buckets. Logan came off the bench for an early old-fashioned three-pointer to go with another basket.
Skiatook, coming into the tournament with an 1-8 record, had almost as many turnovers as points. Trying to go against Claremore's full-court press, the Lady Bulldogs coughed up the ball 31 times. Even when the Zebras pulled back to half court, the turnovers continued.
Skiatook's final two points came with 0:02 on the clock. Samantha Lorton hit a pair of free throws to lift her team to 40.
Megan Bly led Skiatook with 11 points.
On the other end of the court, Skimbo finished the second half with five field goals for a 16-point showing.
Now 7-2 for the season, Claremore will face Grove in Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinals. Grove defeated Ardmore, 55-43.
CLAREMORE 65, SKIATOOK 40
Skiatook 10 12 5 13 — 40
Claremore 12 24 16 13 — 65
Skiatook — M.Bly 11, Reed 8, Lorton 7, Snively 4, Gipson 4, Thompson 2, Suneagle 2, J.Bly 2.
Claremore — KnifeChief 19, Skimbo 16, Milone 7, Lauren Froese 7, Walker 6, Logan Froese 5, Johnson 5.
BARTLESVILLE 57, CATOOSA 24
Bartlesville 10 15 10 22 — 57
Catoosa 0 4 16 4 — 24
Bartlesville — Gage 15, Consedine 10, Morris 10, Dean 6, Vines 4, Ewert 3, Kane 3, Cook 2, Dennis 2, Ward 2.
Catoosa — Dill 12, Loomis 4, Brown 4, Chesney 2, Wenzel 2.
Claremore 65, Skiatook 40
Grove 55, Ardmore 43
Broken Bow 33, Tahlequah 30
Bartlesville 57, Catoosa 24
Catoosa vs. Tahlequah, 10 a.m.
Skiatook vs. Ardmore, 1 p.m.
Bartlesville vs. Broken Bow, 4 p.m.
Claremore vs. Grove, 7 p.m.