SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. —
The Claremore Zebras may be 1-4 on the season, but each loss has been a battle to the buzzer.
On Thursday afternoon in the first-round of the Siloam Springs Holiday Invitational, Shiloh Christian needed all 32 minutes to withstand a strong rally by the Zebras.
Andrew Daniels and Daniel Matthews combined for 28 points to lead Shiloh Christian past Claremore, 58-56.
With the loss, Claremore dropped to the loser’s bracket Friday and faced Western Grove. Shiloh Christian advanced to semifinals against Siloam Springs.
Claremore senior guard T.J. Wood kept the Zebras on the heels of Shiloh Christian with a season-high 20 points and six three pointers — five in the second half.
Trailing 34-26 at halftime, Wood’s explosiveness from the perimeter — aided by a pair of treys in the third quarter — brought Claremore within five points of Shiloh Christian at 44-39 going into the final eight minutes.
Both teams played nip-and-tuck in the first quarter as freshman guard Jeff Oxford converted a 10-foot jumper to put Claremore ahead 14-13 with 1:15 remaining.
Shiloh Christian regained the 15-14 lead on Matthews’ basket in the paint and then Claremore’s Reid Joyner knocked down a free throw to tie the game at 15-15 going into the second quarter.
Shiloh Christian opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run to go up 25-15 before Claremore answered with Hutch Helbig’s offensive putback cut the deficit to 25-17.
With under four minutes remaining in the first half, Ben Burke’s driving layup put Shiloh Christian up 31-21.
Claremore rallied back with Wood draining his first of six three pointers to narrow the deficit to 34-26 at halftime.
Claremore continued to chip away at the Shiloh Christian lead in the third quarter behind the scoring of Wood, Rande Williams and Joyner.
The trio combined for 12 points in the third quarter as Claremore cut the deficit to 44-39 going into the final eight minutes.
Claremore’s ability to create turnovers and Wood’s tenacity on the perimeter made for an electrifying fourth quarter.
Claremore outscored Shiloh Christian, 17-12 down the stretch but came up short as the Saints knocked down 6-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Along with Wood’s 20 points, Oxford and Helbig tallied nine points each and Joyner finished with seven. Truman Burrage and Williams also contributed with four points apiece and Hunter Garroutte added two points on a pair of free throws.