Both outshooting and outrebounding 15th-ranked Tahlequah, No. 11 Claremore finally outdefended the Tigers when it counted.
The Zebras clamped down on the spry Tigers in the second half, easing their way to a 66-57 home victory Tuesday night.
Claremore (9-5) secured the game’s 12th and final lead change following a pair of three-pointers early in the second half. Bray Glenn gave the Zebras a 36-33 lead and Tahlequah managed just one shot attempt in the first three minutes. The Tigers never caught up.
Carson Hartloff came off the bench to pace the Z’s with 26 points and 10 rebounds, sinking 6-of-12 from long range. Matt Wofford added 14 and 15, respectively. Jaxon Jones topped Tahlequah with 22 points. The Zebras owned a massive 46-27 rebounding advantage, but putting the clamp on the Tigers’ final period shooting proved the difference.
Tahlequah (8-6) came within 50-49 when Jones scored inside with 5:44 left. A couple of minutes later, Hartloff flushed consecutive treys and Claremore was rolling with a 58-50 lead. The gap reached 62-52 on Wofford’s layup with 1:08 remaining.
The first half was a constant struggle for the Zebras, constantly chasing the Tigers in an effort to catch up. Claremore got a break 40 seconds into the game when Tahlequah’s 6-foot-4 post Noah Riley went down with a leg injury and had to be helped off the court. He never returned.
The visitors led 13-8 before the Z’s scored six straight points to go ahead. Down 18-16 entering the second quarter, CHS fell behind 22-16, setting up a series of five lead changes. The Zebras still trailed 33-30 at halftime after Hartloff’s trey at 1:18.
Claremore wasted little time coming out and taking charge in the second half.
TAHLEQUAH 34, CLAREMORE 28 (girls): The Claremore Lady Zebras play the game in spurts. They tend to go up and down and they did so against sixth-ranked Tahlequah.
Six turnovers plagued the No. 16 Z’s early and they fell behind 11-4 before trailing 15-14 at intermission. Down 20-14 in the third, Hailey Grant’s three ball kept CHS within three.
Tahlequah (10-4) bolted to a 28-19 gap late in the third period before the Zebras found one last spurt. Sophie Stout swished a triple with 4:52 to go, slicing the Lady Tigers’ lead to 30-28. Kloe Bowin made sure there would be no more chances for CHS, sinking two foul shots with 13.3 seconds left.
Grant collected nine points and nine rebounds for the Zebras. Alli Stayathome had nine for the Lady Tigers.