Sports Sunday Correspondent
CATOOSA — Claremore might decide to bypass the locker room between halves.
On Friday, and for the second straight day, the third quarter proved to be fatal to the Zebras at the 41st Port City Classic high school basketball tournament.
Letting a 10-point halftime lead melt in the third period, the Zebras allowed Grove to escape with a 54-53 win.
Three free throws by Chad Langley in the final seconds were the deciding factor.
It was a wild finish in a contest that had five tie scores and three lead changes during the final 12 minutes.
Up 33-23 at the midway point, Claremore was outscored 16-9 in the third period. The Ridgerunners' Cory Moote tied the score at 42 early in the fourth and the race was on the rest of the way.
In the tournament's opening round, Oklahoma City Grant topped Claremore 68-62 due to a 10-point third-quarter edge.
Moote was fouled on his tying bucket. When he dropped in the free throw, Grove was on top for the first time since late in the first period.
A one- and two-point seesaw followed along with four more ties during the final four minutes.
It appeared that Claremore was ready to nail down a victory with less than a minute to go. Jaren Riley came up with a midcourt steal and raced in with a successful layup, getting fouled on the shot.
This came right after Grove missed three shots from point-blank range. Things were going good for the Zebras at this point.
Grove had an answer with 50 seconds left, however. Tanner Langley, shooting from the right base line, hit a trey for a 51-51 knot.
Andrew Rounds put the Zebras back up by two 14 seconds later on a pair of free throws.
During the final 21 seconds, Chad Langley was fouled twice. He missed his first attempt, but hit the second to pull Grove within one. On the second foul, Langley hit both free throws for the deciding margin.
A pair of midcourt Zebra turnovers gave Grove the ball and allowed Langley's timely foul shots.
Down by one, Claremore had one last hope. Going for a third turnover, Grove knocked the ball out of bounds with two seconds to play. Chris Bottoms, under heavy guard, was forced to attempt an off-balance shot from almost mid-court. It fell short.
That was about the only time he missed. Getting layup after layup against the taller Grove opponents, Bottoms finished with 24 points. No other Zebra had more than eight.
Bobby Hughes, a 6-7 senior, topped Grove with 21 points.
Claremore, 4-6 for the season, played Catoosa for seventh-place Saturday. Catoosa fell to Broken Bow, 49-37, Friday.
The Ridgerunners, now 7-5, moved to the consolation finals against Broken Bow.
Claremore owns a 68-53 victoryover Catoosa from December. The two teams will play Tuesday at Claremore.
GROVE 54, CLAREMORE 53
Grove 12 11 16 15 — 54
Claremore 17 16 9 11 — 53
Grove — Hughes 21, C.Langley 14, Moote 7, T.Langley 5, Davenport 5, Shoemaker 2.
Claremore — Bottoms 24, Wilson 8, Grubb 6, Rounds 6, Sanders 3, Riley 3, James 3.
BROKEN BOW 49, CATOOSA 37
Broken Bow 16 8 17 8 — 49
Catoosa 16 8 7 6 — 37
Broken Bow — Lewis 14, Bailey 13, Ban 11, Hicks 6, Butler 5.
Catoosa — Chesney 15, Loomis 6, Wilsey 4, Smith 4, Godsey 3, T.Neinhuis 3, C.Neinhuis 2.