Once a Longhorn, always a Longhorn.
Though Clyde Barkley is Sooner born, his heart and soul revolves around ‘Inola Longhorn Basketball’.
Inside the Inola High School Gymnasium Tuesday night, Barkley — who is in his 37th year as the Longhorns head boys basketball coach — collected his 600th coaching victory.
“Truly blessed,” Barkley said on the milestone moment. “Each win is significant, but this one is even more special because I did it in my hometown with a great group of players and very dedicated fans.”
One fan, in particular, and the key to Inola’s state championship success in 1998 — Barkley’s son Justin — followed every shot of Tuesday’s win right behind the Inola bench.
“What a honor for Dad, our family and the Inola community,” Justin Barkley said. “Basketball is what we know. Anyone that can stay in one place and get that many wins, it’s an accomplishment in a tough business.”
Justin Barkley, who is the Rogers State University head men’s basketball coach, added that his father’s passion for Inola basketball is as great today as it was 20 years ago.
“Dad loves teaching the fundamentals and molding young men into champions on and off the court,” Justin Barkley said. “The reason the Inola boys basketball program is so consistent year in and year out is because dad (Clyde) has his hand on the program from the sixth grade to the high school.”
Inola senior point guard Travis Hall and junior guard Garrett Glass combined for 34 points — 17 each — to make Barkley’s milestone moment a night to remember.
According to Barkley, “This honor goes to all my players. For 30-plus years, I’ve been fortunate to sit on the sidelines and coach through them. They’re the ones that make these victories possible.”
Inola built an 8-0 lead, stretched it to 26-5 at the end of the first quarter, and used an 8-0 run late in the second quarter to lead 43-22 at halftime.
Hall and Glass tallied 24 of Inola’s 43 first-half points.
Casey Gill and Aaron Davis followed with 11 and 10 points, respectively; while Taylor Mootry contributed with eight.
The Longhorns outscored Catoosa, 23-15 in the third quarter to carry a 66-37 lead into the final eight minutes of play.
Kaleb Presley led Catoosa with 15 points, while Matt Dillon and Tre Harvey followed with 13 each.
The Longhorns (2-0) advanced to the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. tonight agains Fort Gibson.