BASKETBALL: Inola asserts dominance in Rogers County

Feb. 1—SEQUOYAH — Inola basketball has firmly established itself as the preeminent force in Rogers County.

The Longhorns' basketball programs demonstrated their superiority over the past week, securing commanding victories over Verdigris and Sequoyah to solidify their claim as the top basketball competition in the county. In a display of skill and determination, both the Inola girls and boys teams achieved resounding success, further enhancing their reputation as formidable contenders in Class 4A basketball.

On Saturday, the Class 4A No. 6 Lady Longhorns delivered a major performance to overcome No. 14 Verdigris with a 41-31 victory. Led by the dynamic play of Addison Mootry, who contributed 12 points, Inola completed a three-game season sweep of the Lady Cardinals with an average margin of victory of 12.7 points per game.

Meanwhile, the 11th-ranked Longhorns showcased their prowess with a dominant 67-43 win over Verdigris, fueled by standout performances from Jackson Welch and Aidan Clark, who tallied 19 points and a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double, respectively.

The momentum continued into the highly anticipated Rogers County Rivalry clash on Tuesday night at Sequoyah, where Inola once again emerged victorious.

Despite facing formidable opposition, the Lady Longhorns utilized their defensive abilities to secure a commanding 39-20 win. Mootry showcased her scoring artistry once more, delivering with 19 points and four rebounds.

In the boys matchup, the Longhorns' Trevor Groff and Clark showcased their talents with significant double-double performances, leading their team to a hard-fought 63-55 victory over the No. 12 Eagles at the Olan Graham Field House. Groff's stellar performance included 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Clark contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Inola's dominance on the boards proved pivotal, outrebounding Sequoyah 47-25, including a commanding 20-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

With these compelling intracounty victories, both Inola squads improved to 15-3 overall. As they eagerly await their postseason assignments, which will be revealed by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association on Friday, the Longhorns have solidified their status as the premier basketball programs in Rogers County, setting the stage for continued success on the court.


Groff seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.

Inola's 6-foot-3 senior shooting guard displayed his nose for the ball, frequently arriving under the basket to turn offensive rebounds into easy, uncontested layups. It happened so often, in fact, it became almost ritualistic for Groff to find the ball in his hands after a missed shot.

"That's where I make my trademark, right there," Groff said. "If I can't get the ball on offense, that's your best bet to score the basketball. Ever since I was a freshman coming up, that's just where I've excelled — offensive rebounds. I try to put my team in the best place that I can."

He finished with 12 rebounds in all, including an eye-popping eight offensive boards. Most of his 22 points came off putbacks or their resulting trips to the free-throw line, where he shot 9-of-12

Even he was surprised at how easy it was at times, grabbing offensive boards uncontested on several occasions.

"They're a top team — a lot of people think they should be top 10 and us — but they usually box out really good," Groff said. "It's just all about positioning, and luckily tonight, I was able to get in the right position to get the rebounds."

And it wasn't just Groff.

The Longhorns dominated the boards throughout the game, outrebounding Sequoyah 47-25 overall while also achieving a 20-8 advantage on the offensive glass. Clark — a 6-6 sophomore forward who struggled with foul trouble early but still managed a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds — pulled down four offensive boards, while Caden Thompson (3), Jaxon Marlin (2) and Kaiden Riggs (2) grabbed multiple as well. Those three finished with seven, five and four rebounds total, respectively, while Welch grabbed eight to go alongside nine points.

Eagles coach Tim Bart, who is an Inola alum and played under Longhorns coach Clyde Barkley, said though his players are talented, being out of position prevented them from fully utilizing their abilities.

"That's the No. 1 thing I said before the game, that's what I said at halftime, that's what I said at the four-minute mark and that's what I told them after the game," Bart said. "In big-game situations like that, it comes down to the little things — turnovers and offensive rebounds. Our starting five are great athletes, and I think we think we can just outjump everybody, and it's my fault as their head coach. I did a poor job of, I guess, teaching blocking off and rebounding. A couple of those offensive rebounds and putbacks were when we needed them. It was a four-point game, and they get three offensive rebounds and putbacks. They kind of out-toughed us on the offensive rebounds tonight.

"It was a big game, and that's what it came down to. The game was won and lost on the offensive glass."

Groff's impact on the game was immediate, for he hit a 3-pointer in the early moments of the first quarter to give the Longhorns a 6-2 lead before adding another three points as they built a 20-11 lead going into the second period.

He then added another seven in the second, including five-consecutive points to end the quarter after Sequoyah trimmed an 11-point deficit to five points at 27-22 thanks to eight points from Eestyn Prater — including two 3-pointers — and a Kyler Moore 3. That spurt from Groff gave Inola a 32-22 halftime edge.

"That's the way he is, blue collar," Longhorns coach Barkley said. "He's in the mix with Aidan and Jackson, and the group creates hard matchups. I'm really proud of the way they played.

"When you get guys like that who can get double-doubles, your team really comes together," he added. "That's pretty good."

A Groff free throw to open the second half put Inola up by 11 once more, but the Eagles again battled back to within five at 37-32 with a 10-4 run led by seven points from Judah Gibson — including a three-point play — and a 3-pointer from Luke Wood.

The Longhorns and Sequoyah then traded 6-0 and 5-0 runs, respectively, to bring the score to 43-37 before Clark knocked down a 3-pointer to end the period with Inola ahead by nine. That lead quickly jumped to double digits in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles rallied again to within five at 51-46 following consecutive 3-balls from Moore and Gibson and a Moore free throw with 4:35 remaining.

That was the closest they would get, though, for the Longhorns embarked on an 8-3 run over the next 3:12 to push the lead back to 10 points at 59-49. Prater and Gibson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the ensuing minutes, but Inola went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final 38 seconds to secure the 63-55 victory.

Gibson led Sequoyah with 19 points and five rebounds, and Prater — who sat a majority of the third and fourth quarters with four fouls — joined him in double figures at 13 points and four boards. Luke Wood (eight points, six rebounds) and Tristan Gibson (eight points, three rebounds) had notable performances as well, while Moore added seven and three.

"Beating Sequoyah here on their home floor is big because they're a really good basketball team," Barkley said. "Their coach played for me in high school, so they're really well-coached. It's hard to beat Sequoyah at Sequoyah. They don't lose at home, so that was a good win for us."


In a peculiar and uncharacteristic offensive display, Inola secured the victory by relying on their defensive prowess in a game that defied expectations.

Facing Sequoyah for the second time this season, the Lady Longhorns encountered an unusual challenge as two of their leading scorers, Miller Weast and Brooke Walker, combined for only two points, with the latter going scoreless.

Despite coming into the game with an average of 53.3 points per game, Inola managed only 18 points in the first half against a Lady Eagles team they defeated by 39 points last month.

"A lot of that was because of their matchup zone; it gave us a lot of trouble," Inola coach Travis Wheeler said. "We kind of panicked a little bit, not understanding what was going on and didn't really want to run our offense. Then you have shots not falling, and that just compounds. It just gets uglier and uglier."

The game started with a level playing field with the teams tied at 6-all after the first period. It was in the second quarter that Inola's defensive intensity took center stage, forcing 12 turnovers and outscoring Sequoyah 12-1.

The Lady Eagles went without scoring a point from the 0:37 mark of the first quarter until the 1:52 mark of the second quarter, contributing to the Lady Longhorns' 18-7 halftime lead.

"That's something we hang our hat on," Wheeler said. "You can't outshoot everybody, but if you can stop somebody, you can beat them. And they've learned that even when shots aren't falling, they'll still hook up and play defense."

Although Inola faced offensive struggles, Mootry emerged as a bright spot.

The senior guard showcased her offensive prowess, finishing the game with 19 points and four rebounds. Mootry embarked on a crucial 7-0 run spanning from the third to the fourth period, extending the Lady Longhorns' lead to 30-12.

Her teammates took charge from there, expanding the run to 16-2 before Sequoyah's Matison Kruis ended the streak with a three-point play.

Jaci Moore played a significant role for Inola as well, contributing eight points and securing a team-high six rebounds. Remarkably, the Lady Longhorns committed only seven turnovers throughout the game, including just one in the second half.

Despite the Lady Eagles' 27 turnovers, they dominated the boards with a 42-26 rebounding edge, capitalizing on Inola's errant shots. Sequoyah also excelled on the offensive glass, winning that battle 15-9.

Kruis led the Lady Eagles with 12 points and six rebounds, while Lanie Thompson contributed four points and secured a game-high seven rebounds. Ali Park and Lexis Breshears both added six rebounds, and Landry Roland closed in with five boards.


In a closely contested matchup where the teams matched each other point-for-point in the second half, it was the decisive first half that made all the difference.

Mootry, Walker and Weast set a commanding tone in the initial two quarters for Inola, collectively contributing to all the team's points and establishing a 26-16 lead by halftime. Mootry led the charge with 10 of her 12 points in the first half, while Walker and Weast added eight points each, finishing the game with 11 and eight points, respectively.

Although the trio's scoring influence diminished in the second half, the Lady Longhorns found support from Brynna Wiginton, Callie Morgan and Moore to maintain their advantage against a resurgent Lady Cardinals.

Kate Wiginton spearheaded Verdigris with a game-high 14 points, displaying a noteworthy performance, particularly in the second half. However, the Lady Cardinals faced challenges in finding additional offensive contributors, with no other player managing more than four points.

Kate Wiginton showcased her scoring ability in the second half, accumulating nine points during that stretch, seven of which came in a competitive third quarter.

Despite Verdigris matching Inola in points during the third and fourth quarters (7-7 and 8-8), the Lady Longhorns' first-half dominance proved instrumental in securing the 41-31 victory. Inola's balanced offensive effort and early contributions laid the foundation for their success, highlighting their ability to establish control and weather any potential rallies.

"It's hard to beat somebody three times, especially a good team like that," Wheeler said. "They gave us a run. It was a very physical, tough-fought ballgame."


Inola left no room for uncertainty as it dominated for three quarters and showcased a well-rounded team effort.

The Longhorns asserted their dominance from the opening tip, outscoring the Cardinals 21-10 in a commanding first quarter. Although Verdigris managed to edge out Inola in the second quarter, the Longhorns quickly regained control and never looked back.

Leading the charge for Inola was Welch, who delivered an impressive performance, contributing 19 points and two rebounds while sinking four 3-pointers. Clark was a force in the paint, securing a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Clark also made valuable contributions across the stat sheet with two assists, a steal and a block.

Groff showcased his versatility with eight points, six rebounds and two assists, providing crucial support for the Longhorns' offensive and defensive efforts. Marlin and Riggs demonstrated their skills, each contributing seven points and making notable contributions in rebounds and assists.

Caden Thompson rounded out the notable performances with six points, three rebounds and four assists.

Inola's offensive efficiency was on full display, shooting 58.5% from the floor, including a notable 65.2% from inside the arc. The Longhorns demonstrated their prowess beyond the arc as well, shooting 50% and sinking nine 3-pointers. Their dominance extended to the boards, where they outrebounded the Cardinals 34-17.

Tyler Willis led the scoring efforts for Verdigris, notching 18 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Dax Hamilton provided support with 11 points, two rebounds, one assist and one block.