LARRY LARKIN

Progress Correspondent



Adam Hollon is the big one under the baskets.

Aaron Sunday and DJ Sam look almost like brothers and do a good job complementing each other on ends of the court.

Then there is Ty Morgan. He is ready to come off the bench at any second.

The four Verdigris seniors pretty much play high school basketball in the shadow of another Cardinal senior. Teammate Rotnei Clarke is expected to become the Oklahoma boys all-time scoring leader tonight during a Class 3A area tournament championship game at Skiatook.

To move to the top spot on the points chart, Clarke needs to score 35 against Adair. Game time is 8 p.m.

Clarke's four senior teammates, as well as the rest of the Verdigris squad, including the lone underclassman starter, sophomore Cole Overholt, will take special delight when he does it. Only they realize the work and dedication it has taken Clarke to reach this goal.

While their high school buddy will go to the University of Arkansas on a basketball schalorship, the remaining four may be reaching the end of their basketball playing days. Then, again, one or more may go on to college ball, too.

One thing is certain. As a team this year, the Cardinals still have a job to do.

Hanging on the wall beside the Verdigris locker room door is a picture of "The Big House." The large arena located on the Oklahoma City fairgrounds is the home of the state tournament.

In the Verdigris fieldhouse is a large cutout of a gold ball. It is the likeness of the trophy that is presented to each championship team.

The Cardinals are four victories away from having a real gold ball.

Taking time away from their lunch break on Tuesday this week, Adam, DJ, Aaron, and Ty each talked about this season:



Adam Hollon

"We moved here last year when I was a junior. I wanted the opportunity to play with Rotnei again. We played together on summer leagues during junior high. Keiton Page (Pawnee) also played on the team. We didn't lose many games.

"I wanted to play for a championship. As a sophomore, I was at Broken Arrow and saw a lot of playing time, but I never was real comfortable there. I wanted a smaller school.

"My dad (Adam is the son of Paul and Sherri Hollon) played high school ball with coach (Kelly) Clarke at Collinsville.

"I have never regretted coming here.

"There have been some health problems. I have a dislocated disc in my back and have needed three cortisone shots. The last one certainly helped. During the game, I don't think about the pain, but afterwards there were times I could barely walk.

"My job on the team is to get the rebounds (11 per game average), but I also do some inside scoring (15 point per game), too.”



Aaron Sunday

"I came back out for basketball this year after not playing as a junior. I played as a freshman and sophomore, but wanted to devote more time to my senior football season.

"As quarterback, I felt that was the right thing to do. We had an 8-4 record and made it to the second round. Last year when I didn’t play basketball, I must admit I started missing it about halfway through the year.

"My parents (Wayne and Dee Sunday) have lived in the Verdigris area as long as I can remember. It is a pleasure to have grown up with all these guys.

"My role on the basketball team is to handle the ball and work it in for Rotnei and Adam to score the points. I may get between four and eight points most of the games, but the real fun is to watch those two do their thing.

"It is unbelievable how many points Rotnei scores. We may get the ball to him all right, but he is responsible for what he does afterwards."



DJ Sunday

"Like Aaron, I guess we are mostly defensive players, but we also get the offense set on the other end of the court.

"It has been a honor to play here and be on the court with Rotnei and the others. Rotnei deserves every award and honor that comes his way. We all know how hard he has worked to be as good as he is.

"Since coach Clarke and Rotnei have been here at Verdigris, we have gone to the state tournament each year. It sometimes is a struggle when coach gets after us because of some mistake, but at the same time we know he is there as a father figure. He knows what he is doing.”



Ty Morgan

"I have been on the team with Rotnei and the others all four years in high school. This is really the first season to be with the varsity the whole time.

"Even as a reserve, I usually see a lot of minutes playing time and I believe I contribute to the team by giving the starters a needed breather when they need one.

"We have a Christian team and know God has given us the ability to play. By using that ability, we all feel we can beat anybody we face.

"Coach Clarke continues to push us in that direction. It is hard getting chewed on when we mess up, but we all know he is there for us when he is needed.

"The team wants to win not only for us, but also for our great fan base. The fans are always there at home or on the road. We appreciate their support."