In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
Tahlequah Sequoyah, under the leadership of Claremore resident Larry Callison, dropped to Saturday’s must-win game against Vian for a trip to the state tournament.
The loss to Verdigris was Tahlequah Sequoyah’s second on the season and dropped the Lady Indians to 24-2 on the season.
Verdigris improved to 25-2 with its fourth-straight playoff win, and second state tournament berth under head coach Mike Buntin.
O’Dell, who finished with a game-high 18 points, nearly outscored Tahlequah Sequoyah by herself in the first half with 10 points to spark Verdigris to a 25-12 halftime lead.
Verdigris opened the first quarter with a trio of 3-pointers — two by senior guard Caitlyn Hanslovan and one by freshman guard Keara Battenfield — to set the tone with a 13-3 lead.
Though O’Dell was held to two points in the first quarter, the Lady Cardinals all-time leading scorer picked up the pace in the second quarter.
O’Dell first 3-pointer with 6:51 left in the first half increased the Lady Cardinals lead to 16-4. After her short-range jumper in the paint put Verdigris up 18-6, O’Dell knocked down another 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining to make it 25-11.
O’Dell, Hanslovan and Battenfield combined for 22 of the Lady Cardinals’ 25 points in the first half.
Loren Young paced Tahlequah Sequoyah with six points and Cenia Hayes had four.
In the third quarter, Battenfield’s baseline jumper put Verdigris up 36-16 with 4:37 remaining.
O’Dell continued to flourish from the perimeter — hitting two 3-pointers — for eight of the Lady Cardinals’ 18 points in the third quarter.
O’Dell’s 18 points after three quarters increased the Lady Cardinals lead to 43-21.
Tahlequah Sequoyah, however, battled back in the fourth quarter and narrowed the Lady Cardinals’ lead to 49-38 with under four minutes on Jakkie Wright’s layup.
Tahlequah Sequoyah outscored Verdigris, 19-10, in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Cardinals only converted three field goals and were 2-of-5 from the free throw line in the final eight minutes.
Along with O’Dell’s 18 points, Battenfield contributed in double figures with 10. Courtney Risenhoover followed with eight points, while Hanslovan had seven.
Also contributing for the Lady Cardinals were Taylor Beck with four points and Erin Raines with a point.
Young and Hayes paced the Tahlequah Sequoyah offensive production with nine points each. Amy Tiger also contributed with five points off the bench, while Kelsey Leach had four.
Note: The Class 3A State Tournament qualifiers after Friday were: No. 1 Adair (26-1), No. 3 Washington (26-0), No. 4 Verdigris (25-2) and No. 9 Oklahoma City Heritage Hall (19-5).