Grove’s Jake Spychalski scored a game-high 15 points and presented a tough challenge in the paint for the Claremore Zebras.
Spychalski’s ability to get to the basket against Claremore’s guard-driven lineup led to Grove’s 41-34 victory Friday night in Metro Lakes Conference play.
The loss dropped Claremore to 1-1 on the year. Claremore will resume conference play in a home game at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday against the Coweta Tigers.
Just like the girls game, the Zebras held close in the first half and only trailed 20-18 at halftime thanks to T.J. Wood’s outside shooting and Hutch Helbig’s aggressive offense in the paint.
Wood’s three-pointer with 4:31 remaining in the first half narrowed Grove’s lead to 16-14. Shortly thereafter, Claremore’s guard play — led by Truman Burrage and Jeff Oxford — produced four points and returned the momentum to the Zebras going into the second half.
Oxford’s steal and driving layup sent Claremore into the locker room trailing 20-18.
Grove, though, raced out early in the third quarter and built a 27-20 lead with 3:14 left on strong play inside the paint.
Claremore, however, wouldn’t back down as Helbig and Reid Joyner converted baskets off the glass to cut Grove’s lead to 27-26 with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Grove, meanwhile, continued to penetrate against Claremore’s man-to-man defense with Spychalski getting a strong offensive putback to extended the margin to 29-26.
A three-point play by Grove made it 32-26, and then Claremore’s Oxford cashed in the driving layup at the buzzer to narrow the gap to 32-28 going into the fourth quarter.
Wood’s three-pointer with 6:10 remaining knotted the game at 34-34. Both teams would trade baskets on the ensuing possession, and Grove’s Spychalski increased the Ridgerunner’s lead to 38-34 with 1:06 remaining.
Along with Wood, Helbig also tallied nine points and Joyner had six for Claremore.