‘Holy cow, that game was unbelievable.’
First-year Claremore Lady Zebra coach Stephanie Shaw watched her team overcome adversity and fight with tenacity to pull off a 47-40 win over Coweta Friday night in the season opener.
“For a team that hasn’t been in this kind of environment this early in the season, and never give up, I’m proud of their effort,” Shaw said. “They stuck together and got a really huge win.”
Claremore junior point guard Kaleigh Cox played an integral role in leading the Lady Zebras to victory. Cox, who didn’t make her first field goal until the 6:09 mark of the third quarter, put the team on her shoulders and scored a game-high 23 points.
“Kaleigh’s our rock,” Shaw said. “She’s the one that sparks this team and her play in the fourth quarter was clutch.”
Though Cox’s driving layup put Claremore ahead 25-24 in the third quarter, it was the fourth quarter where the three-year starter rose to the occasion.
With Coweta carrying a 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter, Cox simply took over despite having four fouls.
Cox scored 16 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back layups in transition to tie the game at 31-31 with 5:57 remaining.
After Coweta got a basket from Haley Brewster to go up 33-31, Cox answered on the offensive end with a layup from the assist of senior forward Ashlynn Glenn to once again tie the game at 33-33.
Cox’s feisty defensive pressure on Coweta point guard Courtney Haas forced a turnover and the Claremore junior standout knocked down the 10-foot jumper to put the Lady Zebras up 35-33.
Both teams traded baskets until Glenn’s layup from Bailey Steckline put Claremore ahead for good at 39-37 with under three minutes remaining.
Claremore finished the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run with Cox scoring six of the Lady Zebras’ final eight points.
“Our defense got us going after halftime,” Cox said. “Our goal was to hold Coweta to 40 points and we did that.”
Shaw credited her team’s defensive prowess in the second half to Cox’s leadership.
“Defense is what is going to win us games,” Shaw said.
Freshman guard Monica Taylor scored eight points in her first varsity start, including a pair of three pointers in the first quarter.
Coweta, who made five treys in the first half, was led in scoring by Kaitlyn Norton with 16 points.
In the boys’ game, Coweta built a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back to thump the Zebras, 79-40.
Caleb Norris and Ty Gunter led the Tigers with 15 points each, while Jake Ross and Zach Norris added 10 apiece.
Coweta coasted to a 24-7 first quarter lead and went into halftime ahead 42-18.
Daniel Lauer paced Claremore’s offense with 13 points, while Brett Russell added eight before fouling out.