LARRY LARKIN

Progress Correspondent



After sending both teams to the Class 3A state basketball tournament for the past two years, Verdigris presented a strong bid to do the same again in 2008 with a Saturday night steamroller performance over Sperry.

Starting this year's playoff run, the Verdigris boys, led by Rotnei Clarke's 47 points, coasted to a 90-49 win.

Not be to outdone, the Lady Cardinals blew past Sperry's girls, 84-49.

Each victory meant a district tournament championship.

Clarke became only the third player in Oklahoma boys basketball history to score 3,500 career points. On pace to become the all-time leading scorer, Clarke needs 139 to tie current leader Ty Harman of Maud who finished with 3,639 in 1989. The Cardinal senior, in third place with 3,501 career points, needs 30 to move into second place.



Girls

The Lady Cardinals came out of the dressing room on fire and never really cooled off. The cold and rainy weather outdoors had no effect on the home team inside.

Verdigris used an early 11-0 run to build a 21-8 first-quarter edge. That proved to be only the appetizer. During the second period, the Lady Cardinals closed out the first half with 20 straight points.

Sperry was shut out for more than four minutes going into the mid-game break and trailed by a 50-13 margin.

Cassie Clarke tied Sperry's Cassity Torix for game honors as each finished with 24 points. While Samanty Bryant backed Torix with 12 points for the Lady Pirates, the Sperry duo was no match for Clarke's supporting cast.

The large lead allowed Verdigris to give the reserves playing time and they produced. The Lady Cardinals received 37 points coming from the bench. Sperry had five.

Twelve Verdigris players scored as coach Gary Kennemer's crew won their 13th straight game.

The Verdigris girls, No. 6 in the OKrankings.com poll of coaches, will take a 17-7 record into this week’s regional tournament.



Boys

During a 95-52 defeat to Verdigris a week before, Sperry gave up 36 points to Clarke, four under his season average. On Saturday night, the Pirates tried to keep ball possession longer by going with a four-corner offense.

The plan allowed the Pirates to remain in the game for the first quarter, but fell apart the remainder of the game.

Leading by 17-12 going into the second quarter, the Cardinals showed no mercy in the next two periods as they outscored Sperry, 51-17.

At halftime, Verdigris led, 43-17.

Clarke opened and ended the first half with three consecutive free throws. He went to the line after being fouled on 3-point field attempts.

Verdigris continued to get big inside play from 6-7 senior Adam Hollon. He finished with 15 points while getting nine rebounds.

Cole Overholt hit his first three treys and Ty Morgan and Andrew Parham each came off the Cardinal bench to provide impressive defensive play.

Denton Wolf led Sperry with 10 points and Byron Teel pulled down a team high six rebounds.

Rated No. 1 with a 21-3 record, Verdigris' journey to a fourth straight trip to the state games now moves into the regional matchups this weekend.





VERDIGRIS 90, SPERRY 49

Boys

Sperry 12 5 12 20 — 49

Verdigris 17 26 25 22 — 90

Sperry — Wolf 10, Smith 9, Fetendine 8, Winters 7, Bettiest 5, Apodaca 3, Rowling 3, Teel 2, Beats 1, Miller 1.

Verdigris — Clarke 47, Hollon 15, Overholt 9, Morgan 7, Sunday 3, Skrovina 3, Parham 2, Knaust 2.



VERDIGRIS 84, SPERRY 49

Girls

Sperry 8 5 18 18 — 49

Verdigris 21 29 16 18 — 84

Sperry — Torix 24, Bryant 12, Haas 6, Nelson 3, Gooshy 2, Wheeler 2.

Verdigris - Clarke 24, M.Heskett 9, Hahn 7, K.Heskett 6, Nichols 6, Stout 6, Schaub 5, Dargel 5, Garrett 5, Cagle 5, Swopes 4, Mitchell 2.