Cherokee Gott is quickly becoming a ‘go-to’ player for the Class 5A No. 14 Claremore Lady Zebras.
Only a freshman, Gott turned in a veteran-like performance in the Port City Classic and came away with All-Tournament honors.
In three tournament games, Gott combined for 43 points — including a career-high 22 points in the Lady Zebras’ 44-40 win over Victory Christian Saturday afternoon in the fifth-place game at Catoosa High School.
“Cherokee was huge for us again today (Saturday), knocking down four three’s and going 8-for-8 from the free throw line,” Lady Zebras head coach Stephanie Shaw said.
“Almost every night, we have a different scorer and we’ve had different players rise up when we’ve needed it. Today was her night.”
Quite frankly, the tournament belonged to Gott, who raised her level of play and contribution following Claremore’s opening-round 57-41 loss to Class 6A No. 3 Bartlesville.
With Claremore’s depth at the guard position cut in half due to injuries to freshman Monica Taylor and junior Alex Crews, Gott helped ease the pressure of junior point guard Kaleigh Cox.
“We knew with only having a limited amount of players and half of those players banged up, we would have to save our press for sometime during the second half,” Shaw said.
The defensive strategy worked as the Lady Zebras rallied from a 24-14 deficit thanks to attacking Victory Christian with their full-court press.
During the third quarter, the Lady Zebras’ offense finally got in sync as Gott drained a pair of threes and Cox knocked down a 10-foot jumper to trim Victory Christian’s lead to 24-22.
“The strength of this team,” according to Shaw, “is that we don’t have just one single person teams can key on because our ‘team’ is our strength.”
All season long, the key to the Lady Zebras’ success has been to fight through adversity.
With a ‘never say die’ attitude, the Lady Zebras outscored Victory Christian, 22-16 in the fourth quarter to finish strong.
Gott proved to be the ‘heart’ of Claremore’s tournament, and her second-half performance showed in boosting the Lady Zebras to victory.
Along with solid effort, the Lady Zebras also received scoring from Anna McGuire, who knocked down a clutch three-pointer in the fourth quarter to finish with five points.
Cox, Allison Howell and Tristin Reynolds also contributed with four points each, while Bailey Steckline had three points and Morgan Johnson added two.
Just like Gott, Reynolds also proved to be a valuable asset in delivering the fifth-place trophy to Claremore.
Reynolds stepped up in the paint, especially on the boards and pulled down six rebounds in back-to-back wins over Catoosa and Victory Christian.
In those two games, Reynolds had 12 total points and was 6-for-7 at the free throw line.
Bailey Bergman led Victory Christian with 15 points.