TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - The Grove Ridgerunners basketball team traveled to Tahlequah on Friday night to play the ninth-ranked team in Class 5A.

The Tigers proved to be too much for the Ridgerunners to handle after taking a late lead, causing the Ridgerunners to lose 48-40. The loss takes Grove's season record to 6-11.

Tahlequah 48, Grove 40

The Ridgerunners held the lead for the majority of the game playing well in all areas. They were playing excellent defense as a team and got a stand out performance from Colin Rowton. With just over 3 minutes to play, the Ridgerunners looked to be in a good situation holding a 37-31 lead.

That’s when things took a turn for the worst. The Ridgerunners had previously had no to little issue with the Tiger’s 1-2-1-1 zone press but suddenly they couldn’t seem to break it. After a quick turnover and Tahlequah basket, Grove head coach Zach Trimble took a time out.

Trimble reminded his team to relax under pressure and run through their press break like they had done hundreds of times in preparation for these moments. But for some reason, things didn’t work out and the Ridgerunners turned the ball over several more times followed by big baskets from the Tigers offense.

After another time out, and with just about 60 seconds remaining, Tahlequah took their first lead of the game. The Ridgerunners were in a bad situation now and were forced to foul. The Tigers made their late game free throws while the Ridgerunners struggled to catch back up. In the end, the 8-point defeat was much closer than it sounds with the Ridgerunners leading approximately 39 minutes in the game.

“The fourth quarter hit and I thought we were in a good place,” Grove Head Coach Trimble said. “On the road that’s the position you want to be in. However, we couldn’t handle their pressure the last few minutes of the game after handling it for 37 minutes. That’s a good team and they did a great job the last few minutes. We have to execute better and take care of the ball and play our game. We look forward to getting another chance Tuesday.”

Corbin Beal lead the scoring with 11 points, followed by Hank Hacker with 9, Aason Cross with 8, Emmanuel Crawford with 6 and Colin Rowton and Greg McCurdy, both with 3.

The Ridgerunners will host Collinsville on Tuesday, February 4. Tip-off will be around 7:30 PM.