Claremore Daily Progress

December 17, 2013

‘Overtime Thriller’

Inola drops Verdigris for Jerry Oquin title

Tim Ritter
Sports Editor

INOLA —  It’s been eight years since the Inola Longhorns last knocked off their Rogers County rival — the Verdigris Cardinals.

The streak stopped Saturday night in the championship game of the Jerry Oquin Tournament at the Inola High School Gymnasium.

Before a packed house crowd, Inola and Verdigris needed an extra four minutes to settle this overtime thriller.

Inola’s Taylor Mootry only tallied 11 points, but it was his offensive putback with 2:31 remaining in overtime that sparked the Longhorns on to a 67-65 win over Verdigris.

The hard-fought win over Verdigris improved the Longhorns to 4-0 on the season and a perfect 3-0 in the tournament.

Inola’s impressive first-half saw the Longhorns cling to a 25-17 lead at halftime.

Senior guard Travis Hall, who got two quick fouls in the first quarter, regained his composure and became an offensive force for the Longhorns.

Hall scored six of the Longhorns’ 15 points in the second quarter, and then responded with 10 more over the course of the next three quarters to lead Inola with 16.

Aaron Davis’ momentum-shifting three-pointer with 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave Inola a 10-point lead at 25-15.

Verdigris, though, finished the first half with Tyler Monroe’s layup and then got back-to-back three-point baskets from Laef Payne and Cade Upshaw to narrow Inola’s lead to 29-27 with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter.

Both teams traded baskets throughout the third quarter, but Monroe’s ability to knock down clutch shots paid off for the Cardinals.

A short-range baseline jumper and then a three-pointer by Monroe knotted the game at 36-36 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.

Cass Freeman’s driving layup on the ensuing possession gave the lead back to Inola at 38-36.

Ryan Skalnik’s back-to-back baskets, including a huge layup with under a minute remaining the third quarter put the Cardinals up 40-38.

But, a three-point play by Inola’s Casey Gill at the buzzer swung the momentum back in favor of the Longhorns with a 41-40 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Both teams stayed on each other’s heels until Hall’s steal and fast-break layup with 1:48 left in the game put Inola ahead 58-53.

Following the timeout by the Cardinals, Skalnik buried a wide-open, uncontested three-pointer in the left corner to cut the Inola lead to 58-56 with 1:28 left.

Then, with 1:01 left, Payne stole the ball from Glass, and Monroe converted the give-and-go from Caleb Jones to tie the game at 58-58.

Mootry’s offensive foul with 53 seconds remaining gave the Cardinals a game-winning possession.

Upshaw dribbled out the clock until the final seconds when his shot missed off the front of the rim to force the overtime period.

A great deal of the Cardinals’ scoring came at the free throw line where they finished 15-of-22 — including a perfect 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter.

In overtime, Hall converted the layup that put Inola ahead 60-58.

Upshaw answered with a layup on the ensuing possession to once again tie this thriller at 60-60.

Mootry’s offensive putback and free throw conversion with 2:31 remaining increased Inola’s lead to 63-60.

Glass and Hall made 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to secure the Longhorns’ victory.

Along with Hall, Gill tallied 13 points, Glass had 12 and Mootry finished with 11 to lead the Longhorns. Davis also contributed with eight points.

Upshaw scored a game-high 17 points and Monroe chipped in 14 to lead the Cardinals. Jones also added 12 points and Payne finished with 10.