LARRY LARKIN

Progress Correspondent



TULSA — David's pebble missed the mark. Goliath dodged and then managed to emerge victorious.

The "Big Guy" won.

Class 6A prevailed over Class 3A.

In the game of life, or in this case, high school basketball, that's the way it usually happens.

It happened again Thursday night in the opening round of the 42nd edition of the Schoolboy Basketball Tournament of Champions at the Expo Square Pavilion.

In a match of two 7-0 teams, Midwest City topped Verdigris, 63-60.

"I think we surprised some people by showing we could play with them," Verdigris' Rotnei Clarke said. "We felt we could, and we thought we could win.

"Midwest City has quite a team and good depth off the bench. They kept switching (defenders) on me and had someone fresh in my face all the way. I'm exhausted. They were very physical."

Clarke finished with 31 points and was the top scorer among the eight teams playing Thursday. Despite the total, Clarke admitted he had an "off" night shooting. He hit only two of 12 attempts behind the three-point circle.

"I couldn't get the ball to fall in," he said.

Verdigris coach Kelley Clarke, making his fourth TofC appearance with four different schools, said: "We came in here and played too tentative. We didn't hit some shots when we needed them. This is a test of character, and our kids are still coming together. We lost the game in the second and third quarters, more than in the fourth.

"We got impatient three or four possessions in a row late in the second quarter. We were up by 10 and let them cut it back to five."

With 2:23 to go before half, Adam Hollon hit two free throws and Verdigris was on top, 30-20. The Bombers answered with a 7-2 run to the buzzer. They opened the second half with an 8-1 jump to take a 35-33 lead. Except ties at 35 and 37, they remained on top the rest of the game.

At 6-7, Hollon was the tallest Verdigris player. He had eight tough points, but picked up his fourth personal foul at 2:53 in the third quarter and went to the bench. He didn't return until midway of the fourth.

Midwest City brought a 12-man lineup with seven players over 6-2. Leading the way was 6-7 senior Xavier Alexander. He finished with 26 points after making his presence known early with three booming blocks in the first quarter.

The Cardinals trailed throughout the final eight minutes, but never more than five points. That margin came only once. After hitting 10 straight free throws in the first half, Verdigris missed on the front end of three attempts that would have tied the score or put the Cardinals in front. Each was in the final period.

If Verdigris could have taken the lead down the stretch, would it have made a difference? Maybe not. Midwest City was mighty good from start to finish.

Assistant Cardinal coach Conley Clarke summed the game up with five words: "We couldn't get it going."