The Verdigris girls won with defense.
The Verdigris boys won with offense.
That’s the simple version.
There’s more to both games, of course, than those one-dimensional evaluations.
But suffice to say, the girls’ defense and the boys’ offense were critical factors in their high school basketball twin victories Tuesday night at Verdigris.
The Verdigris Lady Cardinals limited Claremore Sequoyah to four points in the final quarter as they rolled to their 10th straight victory, 62-44.
In the boys game, Verdigris exploded for its season-high offensive output and subdued Sequoyah, 86-61.
The unbeaten Lady Cardinals warmed up for Thursday’s first round of the Tournament of Champions in McAlester in grand fashion.
They regrouped after losing a seven-point halftime lead, then yielded only one basket in the final quarter — that coming at 7:33 — and Cassie Clarke and Tiffani Nelms accounted for 43 points, one less than Sequoyah had as a team.
Johnna Weast and Megan Fuller shot down the Verdigris halftime lead of 30-23, and gave Sequoyah a couple of short-lived leads in the third quarter before Nelms scored at the buzzer to regain the momentum, 45-40.
Clarke, who finished with 24 points, totaled 14 in the final eight minutes, 10 coming on free throws.
It didn’t help Sequoyah when the 6-foot Fuller fouled out with 5:44 remaining. She led the Lady Eagles with 16 points.
But Nelms was having her best outing of the season, scoring 19 points — eight in the third period.
Clarke, the 6-foot sophomore spiritual leader of the Lady Cardinals, had two notable maneuvers in the fourth quarter as she sealed off all Sequoyah hopes.
She hit a basket and free throw at 6:49 to open a 48-43 lead. At 2:17, with Verdigris nursing a 51-43 lead, Kait Heskett hit a free throw but missed the second.
From the second slot on the free throw lane, Clarke spun around the Sequoyah player, grabbed the rebound, and scored. That opened an 11-point spread.
Clarke also hit six straight free throws in the final 1:15. With a half-minute left, she blocked a Sequoyah shot, rebounded and drew a foul, resulting in her final free throws.
While Verdigris was extending it all-winning streak, Sequoyah suffered its fourth straight loss. The Lady Eagles are 5-5.
A year ago, Verdigris had a more difficult time disposing of Sequoyah. In two meetings, the Lady Cardinals posted 51-43 and 43-41 victories.
Rotnei Clarke beat the Eagles on three different fronts.
The Verdigris junior with the 35-point scoring average registered a rare triple double.
He scored 28 points, collected 11 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists.
It was something of a statistical night for the Cardinals.
Three of Clarke’s teammates scored in double figures, and Isaac Schultz also was credited with 10 assists.
Paul Hollon, the 6-7 junior, connected on eight of 11 field goal shots, finishing with 17 points, and six rebounds. Freshman sensation Cole Overholt was accurate on four of seven three-pointers and harvested 14 points. He hit three straight treys in the second quarter. Senior D.J. Brown added 10 points.
With Blake Breshears throwing in two treys, including one at the buzzer from just across the half-court line, Sequoyah stayed close during the first half.
But Verdigris went on a 12-0 run to open the third period and the Eagles were all but finished.
Verdigris unloaded 50 points in the second half. During a 28-point third period, Clarke recorded 12 points, Hollon added seven, and Brown had five.
For all the Verdigris offense, coach Kelly Clarke wanted to talk defense. Or, the lack of defense.
“Let’s just say that I was dissatisfied with our defensive effort in the first half,” the coach said.
He expressed those sentiments to his players at intermission.
They stepped it up offensively in the second half, which was not his primary concern.
The defense, he admitted begrudgingly, was “better” after halftime, but still not where he wanted it to be.
Levy Adcock, at 6-5, and Alex Haynes, at 6-6, accounted for 31 points around the basket. Also, Adcock had eight rebounds and Haynes had six.
D.J. Sam corralled seven rebounds for Verdigris, to rank behind only Clarke.
Last season, as Verdigris was putting together 11- and 10-game winning streaks, the Cardinals put down Sequoyah, 70-51 and 72-69, in overtime.
After opening this season with seven straight wins, and losing three in the Tournament of Champions, Verdigris is 10-3.
Before Sequoyah came calling Tuesday night, the Cardinals’ top offensive output this season was 78 points in a 30-point win over Meeker in the Oklahoma Baptist tournament in Shawnee.
For Rotnei Clarke, it was his lowest offensive output after six straight games of 30-plus. He has 10 games over 30, and three games in which he has scored in the 20s.
While the Lady Cardinals are busy this weekend in the Tournament of Champions, the Cardinals will find themselves in the middle of a 10-day break.
Sequoyah suffered its fifth straight defeat and stands 3-7.
VERDIGRIS 62, SEQUOYAH 44
Sequoyah 9 14 17 4 — 44
Verdigris 15 15 15 17 — 62
Sequoyah — Fuller 16, Weast 9, Conger 8, May 5, Morris 3, Goad 3.
Verdigris — Clarke 24, Nelms 19, K.Heskett 10, M.Heskett 7, Julia Mitchell 2.
VERDIGRIS 86, SEQUOYAH 61
Sequoyah 12 18 14 17 — 61
Verdigris 16 20 28 22 — 86
Sequoyah — Adcock 18, Haynes 13, Breshears 8, Miller 8, D.Smith 4, C.Smith 4, Mitchell 2, Marsh 2, Dorsey 2.
Verdigris — Clarke 28, Hollon 17, Overholt 14, Brown 10, Schultz 7, Sam 7, Parham 3.