OWASSO – Claremore appeared headed toward a state tournament berth and then an unfortunate blip crashed the plan.
Sixth-ranked Coweta took full advantage of the Lady Zebras’ lethal lull, scoring 14 consecutive points in a span of 2:54 of the final period, securing a 49-44 victory in the 5A east area tournament at Owasso’s gym. The hard luck Lady Zebras finished the season 12-15.
For the longest time it seemed as though CHS was about to get revenge for a pair of regular season losses to sixth-ranked Coweta. Claremore built a 34-26 lead on two free throws from guard Abbey Cox 42 seconds deep into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Zebras had momentum until it evaporated in a matter of seconds. The Tigers (19-8) began a barrage of points with 6:59 remaining and did not slow down until leading 40-34 at 4:05. Cox, the Z’s gang leader, drew her fourth foul when her team’s lead reached eight and CHS went downhill.
Foul problems were a major problem for coach Whitney Jones and her club with scoring ace Hailey Grant drawing her third with 1:28 to go in first period and fouling out with 1:23 to go. Guard Cloe Dennis departed with five 28 seconds from the end.
Jaci Ross, who fouled out for Coweta, scored eight points in the final frame and put her team ahead for good 35-34 with a bucket at 4:46. The Lady Tigers were in front 45-36 when Claremore restarted its offense. Sophie Stout flushed a trey, pulling the Zebras within 45-42, then Stout scored a driving layup to make it 45-44 and 1:05 to go.
However, the Z’s could not regain the lead and sophomore Linda Brice sank four foul shot in last minute to seal Coweta’s win.
Cox pitched in 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to pace CHS. Grant followed with 10 points. Brice led four starters into double figures for the Tigers with 13.
Claremore trailed 11-10 going into the second quarter, but mounted enough offensive aggressiveness to lead 24-19 late in the half. The Zebras seemed inspired and confident, leading 24-21 at the half.
Coweta’s Ross took a pass from Madison Wheat and scored the layup in retaking the lead 25-24 in the third. Grant retaliated with a 10-footer and the Zebras stretched their advantage to 32-26 with the final period awaiting.