Trailing by four entering the fourth quarter, the Claremore girls basketball team desperately sought an offensive spark.
The Lady Zebras managed only 25 points through the first 24 minutes, scoring no more than nine points in any quarter.
Cloe Dennis made sure to put an end to that rut.
The senior guard came alive in the fourth period, scoring 13 of her career-high 20 points while leading Claremore to a 49-43 victory over Collinsville at CHS Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Thanks to Dennis’ spurt, which included three 3-pointers in the fourth and five total, the Lady Zebras nearly doubled their scoring total with 24 points in the final frame.
“It was just teamwork; drive in and kick out mostly,” Dennis said. “I just had to make it and get us up some.”
A Dennis 3 gave Claremore a one-point lead at 24-23 with 3:30 left in the third, but the Lady Cardinals responded with a 6-1 run to close the quarter.
Luckily for the Lady Zebras, that was only the beginning for Dennis.
She outscored Collinsville 10-3 in the opening minutes of the fourth to give Claremore a 35-32 advantage, but the Lady Cardinals would take the lead once more before Dennis and Hailey Grant put the game away for good.
A pair of free throws from Abbey Stamper made it a 39-38 margin in favor of Collinsville, but Grant and Dennis answered with a 7-0 run that gave the Lady Zebras their biggest lead (45-39) of the game.
Stamper led the Lady Cardinals with 13 points and three rebounds. Elsewhere, Kelly Ellis snagged 10 boards to go along with her 8 points.
Collinsville won the rebounding battle, 44-30.
Grant hit four free throws during the late run, while Dennis notched her fifth and final 3-pointer with 3:03 remaining.
Grant tallied a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. She went 10-of-14 from the free-throw line; her only field goal came early in the second period.
In all, Claremore shot an unprecedented 36 free throws, making 21. The Lady Cardinals visited the line only 21 times total.
Maddie Hardage nearly joined Dennis and Grant in double figures, finishing with 9 points and two boards.
“It was about shot selection and getting (Dennis) a few more looks,” Lady Zebras coach Mike Hughes said of his team’s fourth-quarter production. “And we finally started making free throws, and I think that helped a lot.
“It’s one of those games where there’s not a lot of flow and it’s really choppy, but you gotta get through those ugly games.”
Claremore returns to the court against Cascia Hall at 1 p.m. on Thursday in the Oologah Tournament.