Call it good old fashioned Claremore basketball. The Zebras shot well, transitioned up and down the court smoothly and held on when it counted, securing the Metro Lakes Conference title with a 56-51 victory over Collinsville on Senior Night.
The Cardinals (14-8) entered the game ranked 10th in Class 5A with the Zebras, now 17-6, standing No. 11. Coach Tommy Nolan and his crew wanted to prove it was all wrong, especially the 59-54 loss at Collinsville on Jan. 18.
“I’m proud of our guys in how they persevered in winning the Metro Lakes Conference’’ said Nolan. “The thing about our guys is they overcome adversity and we’ve talked about it all season. We got out in transition well and established our high-post offense. We were patient and selected better shots.’’
Bray Glenn poured in 22 points to pace Claremore, nailing 6-of-7 three-point attempts. Matt Wofford chipped in 13 points and Levi Ewton 10. Peyton Dees collected 16 for the Cardinals.
The victory wasn’t certain for Claremore until the final three seconds.Collinsville was searching for a tying trey, but the ball was thrown away and picked off by Ewton. Ewton drew a foul and cashed both foul shots to clinch the win with 3.2 seconds remaining.
There were plenty of scoring streaks featured throughout with the Cardinals scoring seven consecutive points, producing a 13-13 tie early in the second period. Both teams fought through 1-2-2 zone defenses with Glenn threading Collinsville’s for a three ball at the buzzer in a 23-18 halftime lead for the Z’s.
The visitors opened the second half on consecutive threes from George Longshore and grabbed their only lead of the half 24-23. Wofford’s bucket quickly restored Claremore’s edge and the Z’s never trailed again.
The Zebras did build a 39-31 cushion with 2:22 left in the third quarter, but saw the Cardinals come within 54-51 on Ethan Cole’s hoop and free throw with 1:59 to go. Collinsville came no closer and the game and Metro Lakes championship belonged to the Zebras.
Nolan takes his team to Northwest Classen in Oklahoma City on Friday to face Bishop Kelley in the opening round of the regional tournament.
CLAREMORE 51, COLLINSVILLE 38 (girls):
The 15th-ranked Lady Zebras shot 52.9 percent, making 10-of-15 second half shots, and sent the Lady Cardinals to their ninth straight loss.
Once again Hailey Grant and Abbey Cox were the big guns for Claremore (10-13) with Grant coming off the bench to pitch in 23 points gather seven rebounds. Cox supported Grant with 19 and eight.
Grant hit 6-of-8 floor shots and 7-of-8 free throws in keeping the Zebras ahead in tight situations. Grant reeled off eight straight points in the third period to make it 31-24 and ignite a winning charge. Claremore mounted a 44-29 lead with 5:02 left.
The Cardinals led 10-4 in the first frame, but the Zebras executed a 13—2 run and went up 24-14 when Grant knocked down a three-pointer late in the half. Collinsville sliced the Z’s edge to 24-22 in the second half before Grant again grabbed control.