LARRY LARKIN

Sports Sunday Correspondent



At halftime of Friday night’s girls’ game Verdigris' high-scoring Rotnei Clarke was asked if his younger sister, Cassie, had ever outscored him on a high school basketball night.

"Yes, she did it in one game last year," he answered with a grin.

Well, move over, because she did it again Friday night with a 37-point performance against Chelsea.

In doing so, the 5-10 sophomore Lady Cardinal set a girls school record, breaking her own mark of 36 she set earlier in the week.

It was an upside-down evening as 2007 Homecoming ceremonies were held. The boys played first, then the girls. Tiffani Nelms was crowned Homecoming queen.

The earlier starting time had no ill-effect on the Verdigris boys. Rotnei Clarke, taking an early seat on the bench, finished with 25 as the Cardinals steamrolled Chelsea, 85-35.

The unbeaten Lady Cardinals capped the evening with a 65-50 win. Upset-minded Chelsea trailed only by six with just over two minutes to play.

Girls

For Verdigris, it was the 18th straight win of the season. Only Monday's game at Sequoyah is standing in the way of an undefeated record to take into the weekend's Class 3A district tournament.

"We wanted to come out and take control early tonight," coach Gary Kennemer said. "In the past, we have not been able to do that here at home."

Matching a point for each victory to date, the Lady Cardinals opened the game by jumping to a 17-0 lead. Four starters parted the net during the run.

Chelsea's first point didn't come until Sierra McSpadden hit a layup at 2:26. She recorded her team's first eight points and finished with 26.

All suspense appeared to be over by the end of the first quarter. Verdigris, with Clarke hitting four of five three-point shots and adding a short jumper, was on top 23-6.

Chelsea came into the contest with a 10-7 record. Coach Charlie Hadley's Lady Dragons were not ready to quit. The middle two periods saw the visitors outscore the home team, 32-22.

In the closing minutes of the third period, back-to-back McSpadden baskets pulled Chelsea within 42-36. She hit another right after Clarke nailed her fifth trey.

The final quarter opened with Bree Winters connecting on a three-pointer. Her Chelsea team now was down by 45-41 count with plenty time remaining.

"Chelsea came in here tonight and refused to quit. They were able to get close a couple of times, but on each occasion our girls were able to answer with good plays," Kennemer said.

Jessica Mitchell hit a layup for Verdigris and sister Julia Mitchell followed with four more points for a 10-point edge.

Chelsea had one more challenge to toss out. Winters and Ashley Vann stole the ball on consecutive Verdigris possessionz. Their layups cut the deficit to six.

As their coach said, the Lady Cardinals answered the call. During the final 2:03, Verdigris scored 10 points to Chelsea's three.

Clarke padded her career high by connecting on 12 of 13 free throws. Kait Heskett also reached double figures with 12 for Verdigris.

Boys

Rotnei Clarke, averaging 35 points per start, was a victim of his own team's success Friday night.

With the game being covered by a Fayetteville, Ark., sports writer, and Oral Roberts University coach Scott Sutton present, Clarke had 18 points at halftime. He added seven more in the third quarter during the first four minutes.

Holding a 71-16 lead, Clarke and the other Verdigris starters turned it over to the reserves. In the fourth quarter, Clarke returned for less than 20 seconds. He touched the ball once and passed it to teammate Andrew Parham.

In lifting their record to 17-3, the Verdigris boys, like the Lady Cardinals, remained undefeated in Will Rogers Conference action. Both have already wrapped up conference championships.

Verdigris was hitting on all cylinders. D.J. Brown and Cole Overholt came away with 14 points each and Adam Hollon finished with 10. Eleven players scored for coach Kelly Clarke.

Ryan Terry topped Chelsea with 14 points.



VERDIGRIS 85, CHELSEA 35

Boys

Chelsea 4 8 6 17 — 35

Verdigris 18 26 29 12 — 85

Chelsea — Terry 14, Ellick 8, Captain 5, Jordan 5, Morrison 3.

Verdigris — Clarke 25, Brown 14, Overholt 14, Hollon 10, Parham 6, Lindsey 5, Schultz 4, Smith 2, Sam 2, Whitmore 2, Morgan 1.



VERDIGRIS 65, CHELSEA 50

Chelsea

Chelsea 6 16 16 12 — 50

Verdigris 23 13 9 20 — 65

Chelsea — McSpadden 26, Winters 12, Kolb 6, James 4, Vann 2.

Verdigris — Clarke 37, K.Heskett 12, Julia Mitchell 8, M.Heskett 4, Jessica Mitchell 2, Nichols 2.