INOLA — It was a battle for the Lady Cardinals of Verdigris Tuesday night, as they edged Inola, 42-37, but the Verdigris boys rolled easily past the Longhorns, 73-54, in a high school basketball doubleheader.
Each Verdigris team was led in scoring by the Clarke siblings. Cassie Clarke put 16 on the board, while brother Rotnei hit seven threes on his way to 37.
Both Verdigris teams continued on their unbeaten ways.
In the early going, the Lady Cardinals appeared to be rolling. As halftime approached, the tides had turned and Inola moved in front, 20-17, Inola. Cassie Clarke led the Cardinals with 16 points and two three pointers.
After the break, though, the Lady Cardinals outscored the Longhorns 25-15.
“Experience helped us tonight,” Verdigris coach Gary Kennemer said. “We have four girls with state tournament experience that kept us running.”
Mary Grigg led the Longhorns with 13 before fouling out midway of the fourth period.
“We played OK, but we are young and haven’t put it all together just yet,” Inola coach Rick Ott said.
Clarke had a pair of three-pointers in her 16 points. Teammate Tiffani Nelms pitched in 12.
Verdigris ran its record to 7-0. Inola is 3-4.
The Verdigris Cardinals and Rotnei Clarke warmed up for the Tournament of Champions next week by blowing out to a 43-26 halftime lead.
“We played better, but not up to our full potential,” Verdigris coach Kelly Clarke said. “We are looking forward to the Tournament of Champions.”
Clarke, the 6-0 junior sharpshooter, hit five of his six three-point attempts en route to his biggest point total in two weeks. He is averaging 34 points per start.
“He is the best shooter that has ever stepped on this floor,” Inola coach Clyde Barkley said.
“He deserves all the accolades he is given. I have coached great teams, but not an individual player that was at that level,” Barkley said.
Also leading the team in assists this season, Clarke kept the ball moving and the Longhorns guessing. Two other Cardinals reached double digits. Adam Hollon scored 12 from inside, while forward D.J. Brown contributed another 10.
“We know Rotnei will get his, we just have to have the other guys step up like they did tonight,” Kelly Clarke said.
Rotnei went to the bench with just over four minutes to play in the fourth.
When asked about the game, Rotnei Clarke said: “We played well as a team, better than our last game (a 54-42 win over Sperry). Now we are excited about the tournament.”
The Cardinals will take a 7-0 record into the 42nd Tournament of Champions next week in Tulsa’s Expo Square Pavilion. Their first-round opponent will be Class 6A Midwest City.
VERDIGRIS 42, INOLA 37
Verdigris 12 5 12 13 — 42
Inola 7 14 8 7 — 37
Verdigris — Clarke 16, Nelms 12, K.Heskett 6, Weber 2, M.Heskett 2, Mitchell 2, Blan 2.
Inola — Mary Grigg 13, Maldonaldo 7, Unruh 6, Sears 6, Mandy Grigg 5.
VERDIGRIS 73, INOLA 54
Verdigris 26 17 19 14 — 73
Inola 19 7 16 12 — 54
Verdigris — Clarke 37, Hollon 12, Brown 10, Schultz 6, Overholt 5, Sam 2, Wilson 1.
Inola — Moore 15, Wheeler 9, Elseman 8, Stone 7, Cotton 6, Laymeyer 4, Clifford 4, Weaver 1.