MIAMI — The Quapaw girls used their usual modus operandi during the Girls Norse final against Joplin Thomas Jefferson — play airtight defense and keep things close.
The Lady Wildcats (7-9) managed only 27 points, but it was enough to let them claim a 27-22 victory at the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M High School Basketball Tournament.
“You have to because basketball swings back and forth. It’s a momentum thing,” Quapaw coach Rod Graves said. “You are real good for a quarter then the next quarter the bottom falls out. You have to try as hard as you can to maintain consistency, stay the course and in the end, hope it works out.”
It was Quapaw’s first NEO since 2012 and fifth overall.
The others came in 2002, 1996 and 1995.
“We have won five now and teams I have coached have won three,” Graves said. “It’s real hard to win a tournament here. People don’t realize that.”
As a junior, Graves was part of a Picher-Cardin championship team that beat Keota 61-60 in the 1979 A Blue Boys championship game.
The 27 points is the fewest in a winning effort since 1965 when Bixby tripped Owasso 27-23 in the 2A Gold Boys title game.
The 49 points combined is one point off the record low set a year ago when Fairland defeated Commerce 31-16 in the Girl Norse final.
Quapaw, averaging 30.4 points a game, beat Watts 45-37 in the first round then ground out a 30-25 win against Fairland in the semifinals.
“They are never easy, in any sense of the word,” Graves said. “We played a really tough game last night against Fairland. We didn’t have a lot of legs left tonight. Our shots weren’t there.
“We have a lot of girls who have played a lot of games in a row, haven’t been in school for four or five days because of the snow — it showed tonight. We were a little lackluster.”
The teams battled to a 4-4 standoff in the first quarter and Thomas Jefferson carried a 7-6 lead into the break.
The Lady Cavaliers bumped the lead to two going into the fourth quarter.
The score was tied at 22-22 heading down the stretch, but Quapaw scored the final five points, all on free throws.
“They (the Lady Cavaliers) played a pretty smart game,” Graves said. “We were just glad to hang on and find enough energy in the end.”
Mya Nichols was Quapaw’s leading scorer with nine points.
Karissa Anderson added eight and Lu Attocknie had six — all coming in the fourth quarter.
Skyler Evans and Shea Otteson chipped in with two each.
Austin Flake had 10 points for Thomas Jefferson (6-8), who is coached by Dan Rogers, who was at Crowder College from 1987 to 1995, guiding the Lady Roughriders to the NJCAA national tournament twice.
Quapaw hosts Riverton, Kansas, Tuesday, Jan. 23 and Fairland on Friday, Jan. 27.