COWETA—While certainly not textbook, the Claremore High School boys’ basketball team still found a way to win Tuesday night.
The ninth-ranked Zebras did not make a field goal in the final 9 and one-half minutes but managed to hang on to defeat No. 16 Coweta 51-46 in a battle of Class 5A Metro Lakes Conference foes on the Tigers’ home floor.
Meanwhile, the No. 18 Claremore girls ran into a hot-shooting Coweta squad that connected on 51 percent of its field goals and 81 percent of its free throws on the way to a comfortable 78-53 win for the fifth-ranked Tigers.
Claremore 51, Coweta 46 (boys): After scoring what ended up being its final basket from the field on a shot underneath by Nate Potts with 1:31 to go in the third quarter, Claremore (8-4, 4-2 Metro Lakes) had to rely on scrappy defense and accuracy from the free throw line to pick up its second win against Coweta (6-6, 3-2) this season.
The Zebras also defeated the Tigers 69-49 on Dec. 29 in the Siloam Springs (Ark.) Tournament.
“We knew this would be a tight game and it would be a four-quarter test,” Claremore Head Coach Tommy Nolan said.
After Coweta scored the game’s first eight points, the Zebras battled back to tie the contest at 11 in the opening minute of the second quarter on Potts’ 3-pointer.
That would be the first of four ties in the first half before a 16-footer from the left wing by Bray Glenn, who paced all scorers with 22 points, snapped a deadlock and gave Claremore a 23-21 edge at the break.
After Coweta knotted the contest a final time to start the second half, Glenn swished back-to-back treys to put Claremore ahead for good. He had another basket in the quarter as the Zebras took control before opening its biggest lead, 42-32, on Potts’ and Claremore’s final field goal of the game late in the third period.
After not attempting any free throws in the first half, Claremore hit nine of 10 in the final nine minutes with Glenn connecting on five of six to ward off a Tigers’ rally.
The Zebras also survived by forcing six Coweta turnovers (20 miscues for the game) in the final quarter. Several of those turnovers came as a result of charges drawn by Zebra defenders.
“I think that says something about our kids,” Nolan said referring to how his squad was able to navigate the adversity yet still come out on top.
“We had talked about taking more charges on defense and tonight we did that.”
Potts and Matt Wofford added eight points apiece while Caison Hartloff grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
Andrew Keathley was Coweta’s only double-digit scorer with 11.
Coweta 73, Claremore 38 (girls): Claremore was effective in shutting down Coweta’s leading scorer, Madison Wheat, limiting her to just five points before she fouled out in the fourth quarter.
But the Tigers’ Alexxia Mercer erupted for a season-high 23 points with a trio of 3-pointers and a 12-of-13 performance at the free throw line while teammate Linda Brice hit eight of 10 from the floor, including a couple of treys, and chipped in four free throws to finish with 22 points to more than carry the home team.
Mercer and Brice helped Coweta connect on 18 of 35 field goals (51.4 percent), including eight of 20 (40.0 percent) from beyond the arc.
The duo also was a big part of the Tigers’ 29-of-36 night at the free throw line (80.6 percent).
“The big thing was their shooting percentage,” Claremore Head Coach Whitney Jones said of Coweta’s shooting accuracy for the game.
“When you have shooters who can stretch the floor like they did tonight, it’s hard to defend.”
While Coweta enjoyed success from the field, such was not the case for the Zebras. Claremore ended up just 12 of 42 (28.6 percent) and only four of 23 from 3-point range (17.4 percent).
“Unfortunately, on our end, the ball was just not going in the basket for us,” Jones said.
The Tigers rolled to a 9-0 advantage but Claremore responded and trailed just 18-14 on a 3-pointer by Abbey Cox with 6:51 to play in the second quarter.
But then Mercer took over and scored the first 10 points of a 12-0 Coweta run that turned into a 16-1 blitz and a 34-15 Tiger cushion with two minutes to play before halftime.
Claremore would get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
Hailey Grant topped the Zebras with team highs of 12 points and seven rebounds. Cox chipped in eight points and five boards.
CLAREMORE 51, COWETA 46 (boys)
Claremore (8-4, 4-2): Glenn 22, Wofford 8, Potts 8, Word 7, Hartloff 4, Ewton 2.
Coweta (6-6, 3-3): Keathley 11, Arreola 9, Brewster 6, Wheeler 6, Anderson 5, Mills 5, Ghee 2, Lair 2.
COWETA 73, CLAREMORE 38 (girls)
Claremore (5-7, 2-4): Grant 12, Cox 8, Stout 6, Hardage 5, Yewell 3, Dennis 2, Schornick 2.
Coweta (8-4, 5-1): Ale. Mercer 23, Brice 22, Burleson 6, Wheat 5, Meadows 5, All. Mercer 3, Jared 3, Reed 2, Ross 2, Ulrich 2.