TULSA — The Claremore Zebras beat the Edison Eagles 71-62 in the boys consolation championship game of the Port City Classic on Saturday at Victory Christian School.
The Zebras (7-3) advanced to their contest with the Eagles (7-7) after a 60-38 win over Tahlequah on Friday.
“We knew Edison was very athletic, and we had to have everyone step up and use our depth to have success," Claremore coach Tommy Nolan said. “We came out focused and executed our game plan."
Claremore was not in the original Port City Classic field, but COVID-19 issues at Catoosa schools forced the Indians to drop out and move the boys portion of the tournament to Victory.
“I would like to thank Ryan Wakley (Victory's boys coach and athletic director) and Victory Christian for hosting the tournament," Nolan said. “We knew it was full of great competition, and we had our work cut out jumping in as the eight seed."
Caison Hartloff led the charge for the Zebras with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds. Teammates Tanner Steidley and Gannon Sherl had 15 points apiece.
“We had several kids step up in taking the lead early through key shots and never relinquishing it," Nolan said. "I told the guys after the game I was proud of their effort and their ability to be coachable."
Claremore never trailed and made its first three shots of the game, all from 3-point country en route to a 19-10 advantage after the first quarter.
The Zebras maintained that same cushion and eventually were ahead 30-21 at the half. Xavier Williams had nine of his team-high 20 points in the first half to keep Edison close.
The start of the second half was similar to that of the first for Claremore.
The Zebras got the first nine points, and that resulted in a 54-39 lead after three periods. Hartloff and Sherl combined for 14 points in the frame.
The Eagles turned up the pressure in the final stanza, but Claremore was able to keep them enough at bay to never be seriously threatened.
“I am enjoying coaching these guys because of how well they get along as a unit," Nolan said. “They have bought into the process of working hard to get better on a daily basis and not taking anything for granted. This year has presented so many challenges, but our guys have stayed humble and together through everything."
The Zebras have just three seniors on their roster in Hartloff, Drake Roark and Matt Strickland. Nolan credits their work ethic and attitude as a big factor in Claremore's early success.
Claremore 60, Tahlequah 38: Hartloff and Claremore jumped on conference foe Tahlequah early and never relented, managing double digits in every quarter Friday.
Hartloff led the Zebras with 23 points, including nine in the first period and 10 in the third. Roark scored in double figures as well with 11 points, hitting three 3-pointers.
Steidley and Michael McHugh also had notable performances with eight and seven points, respectively.
Claremore held an 11-point advantage at halftime after holding the Tigers to six second-quarter points, and it extended that lead to 14 at 47-33 entering the fourth.
The Zebras then closed the contest with a 13-5 run.
Qua’Shon Leathers finished as Tahlequah’s only double-digit scorer with 12 points, though he was mostly ineffective after tallying nine in the first quarter. Hayden Smith came close to double figures with eight points.
— Kevin Green contributed to this story.