Excitement abounds in Claremore.
The No. 5 Zebras are 8-1, headed to the Class 5A playoffs and looking to keep the momentum with a huge ‘Senior Night’ performance against the Grove Ridgerunners this Friday at Lantow Field.
According to Claremore head football coach Rob Gilbreath, “Last week’s win at Coweta was great for this team, the town of Claremore and our school. It guaranteed us a home playoff game — something that hasn’t taken place in quite a while.”
The Zebras clinched the No. 2 seed in the District 5A-4 race behind East Central and will more than likely face either Tulsa Memorial or McAlester in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs on Nov. 9 at Lantow Field.
Gilbreath acknowledged that his team deserves the town of Claremore behind them as the Zebras journey into the postseason.
“Each week, the fans that have come out and supported us have seen that this team never quits and plays with heart,” Gilbreath said. “We’re a team that isn’t going to go down without putting up a fight.”
Claremore’s task Friday night, though, comes against a Grove team that is struggling, Gilbreath added.
“Grove hasn’t won a district game and their only victory came against Miami in Week 1,” he continued. “However, they are one of those teams that doesn’t have anything to lose and will fight hard as long as we let them. The important thing that we have to do is take it to them early and often until they want to throw in the towel.”
Offensively, Grove (1-8 overall, 0-6 district) has total 147 points in nine games for an average of 16.3 per contest.
According to Gilbreath, “Their quarterback (Spychalski) is good and throws and runs well. The tailback (Steffenson) is a good athlete, too, that runs hard and has made some long runs this year.
“Up front, though, they are not very good and struggle against slanting and blitzing.”
Claremore’s defense — led by senior linebacker Jordan Cunningham and with 143 tackles and senior defensive end Grady Caton — has given up a total of 120 points in nine games for an average of 13.3 per contest.
“We take pride in running a base defense that swarms to the football,” Gilbreath said.
The old adage of ‘Defense wins Championships’ still holds true in Zebra Country as coordinator Jarrett Hurt and his ‘Wrecking Crew’ have held four opponents to under 10 points.
Coweta, in Week 9, is the only opponent to score 25 points or more on the Zebras’ fierce defense.
Excitement abounds in Claremore.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
Cards fly into 3A State Tournament
Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Vinita eliminates Inola
Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Stilwell advances to State
A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
SOFTBALL: Arkansas cruises past Miss. Valley State
The University of Arkansas softball team completed an undefeated run through the Razorback Invitational Sunday afternoon win with a 13-5 victory over Mississippi Valley State at Bogle Park.
AAC WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: No. 1 UConn routs No. 3 Louisville for title
New league, same result. It's another championship for UConn.
Breanna Stewart scored 20 points and top-ranked Connecticut beat No. 3 Louisville 72-52 on Monday night to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: Sims leads Baylor to championship
Nothing was going to stop Odyssey Sims.
Not her early foul trouble, West Virginia's suffocating defense or the left ankle injury she suffered less than t wo minutes into the Big 12 championship game.
Sims, the Big 12 player of the year, bounced back and scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia 74-71 Monday night and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It was Sims' fourth championship in four years.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB: Kansas State fires coach Deb Patterson
Kansas State has fired women's basketball coach Deb Patterson, announcing the move two days after an opening-round loss in the Big 12 tournament.
NCAA MEN'S BB: Florida, Wichita State stay 1-2 in AP poll
Florida, which finished an unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference, and Wichita State, which completed an undefeated regular season, are the top two teams in the AP college basketball poll for the third straight week.
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