Verdigris’ suffocating, trapping defense forced Kansas into 28 turnovers and ignited a 54-28 victory over the Lady Comets in regional championship basketball Monday night at the Muskogee Civic Center.
The No. 5 Lady Cardinals (23-3) advanced to the Class 3A area tournament on Thursday at Fort Gibson High School.
Verdigris jumped on 14th-ranked Kansas hard in the first quarter, forcing mistake after mistake as all five starters scored a hoop in taking a 10-4 lead. Kansas turned the ball over six times in the first 4:30 and eight times each in the first and second quarters.
Four of the Cardinals’ five starters scored 10 points in leading the onslaught and limited the Comets in one field goal in each of the second and third periods. Sophomore Courtney Risenhoover scored on a drive with 35 seconds left in the first half to give Verdigris an imposing 30-9 lead at intermission.
The lead continued to grow in the second half and reached 40-10 when Caitlyn Hanslovan scored midway in the third frame. Kylie Barbee’s trey gave the Cards a 52-18 bulge with 3:17 left and coach Mike Buntin went to his bench.