OOLOGAH – Just when it seemed as though Claremore was about to experience new life against Tulsa Rogers in the semifinals of the Oologah Tournament, the unbeaten Lady Ropers snatched it away.
Two baskets by Rogers placed a dagger in the Lady Zebras’ hearts, boosting the Ropers to a 41-26 victory and spot in Saturday’s championship game. Claremore plays for third-place at 4 p.m.
Now 11-0 and ranked third in Class 5A, Rogers received a fright after freshman Rachel Jewell’s driving shot pulled the Zebras within 28-24 just 14 seconds deep into the final period. Thirty-five seconds later, Natorie Graham scored for Rogers, followed by a hoop from Lakara Jordan. The Ropers were suddenly ahead 33-24 and home free.
“I definitely thought that at the start of the fourth period momentum had changed our direction,’’ said CHS coach Whitney Jones, whose team dropped to 4-6. “Then they started getting offensive rebounds and we got a little stagnant offensively.
“I thought we fought hard in the second half and, overall, I thought we played OK. We just had too many turnovers and missed too many open looks.’’
The Lady Zebras committed 20 turnovers, but only one in the third quarter that saw the Z’s trim a 21-10 halftime deficit to 28-22 entering the fourth. A 10-0 run, capped by Hilary Grant’s trey, gave her team hope and it ballooned after Jewell’s layup trimmed Rogers’ lead to four.
However, the Zebras went 4:18 without a point until a pair of foul shots by Jewell made it 35-26. But Claremore had lost its offensive zeal and could not score again.
Grant’s 10 points and seven rebounds led CHS while Graham scored 12 for Rogers and Nakia Cullom 11.
The Ropers’ 36-27 rebounding advantage proved decisive in the game along with their quickness and defensive pressure. Rogers’ active zone forced the Z’s outside for most of the first half.
“They did have quicker foot speed and it was hard for us to get to the basket,’’ said Jones, who watched her team make only 2-of-4 treys. “I don’t have an issue with us shooting threes.’’
Rogers forced the Zebras into I4 first half turnovers and allowed just two second quarter points in building the 11-point intermission lead. Then came a hot third period and Claremore had hope.