INOLA – Despite being only two games into the season, the Verdigris girls’ defense appears to be in midseason form.
A week after forcing 40 turnovers in a 47-point win over Miami, the Class 4A No. 6 Lady Cardinals tallied 33 takeaways on the way to a surprisingly easy 59-20 victory Tuesday night against No. 10 Victory Christian in the first round of the Jerry Oquin Tournament at the Inola Indoor Sports Arena.
Verdigris (2-0) lost to the Lady Conquerors 33-24 in the semifinals of last year’s event.
However, perhaps even more impressive than the number of turnovers was the Lady Cardinals’ defense on VC’s star guard Jessa Gilyard.
The junior was averaging 40 points per game coming into the contest – including a 46-point outing against Cascia Hall – but Verdigris limited her impact significantly, holding her to only 10 points.
Lady Cardinals coach Mike Buntin said getting the ball out of Gilyard’s hands and preying on the Lady Conquerors’ younger players was key to forcing turnovers and pulling away early.
“We felt their youth would struggle, and I thought that’s what happened,” Buntin said. “Our game plan was to pressure Gilyard as much as possible and face guard her all over the floor with multiple players and run double teams at her just to get the ball out of her hands.”
While the defense shut down Gilyard and held VC to four points in each of the first three quarters, the likes of Lexy Borgstadt, Jordan Chancellor and Makenzie Blackwell got things going offensively.
Borgstadt led the way with 13 points while Chancellor and Blackwell both added 11 points. All three notched four rebounds as well.
“It was good for each of them to continue to be aggressive and attack,” Buntin said. “The way Victory plays defense, whether it’s man or zone, it’s so spread. We felt like we had the ability to attack the paint, whether by the dribble or getting the ball to post players. We felt like we could go score against them.”
The Lady Cardinals also dominated the glass by a count of 34-17, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds in the process. Maddy Daniels, a freshman, registered a game-high six boards to go along with her six points.
“She’s just a little sparkplug who brings boundless energy when she comes in,” Buntin said of Daniels. “She continues to play hard and just do the little things with that energy. That’s so important for the sixth man off the bench. Morgan (Borgstadt) gave that to us last year as a freshman, and I think that’s something that Maddy continues to do as she gets comfortable with what we do.
“Her scoring totals and impact on the game are going to be even more influential.”
Although a 39-point victory over a top-10 team looks impressive, Buntin said the Lady Conquerors aren’t at full strength. Their second-best player, Bella Wakely, is out with an injury and could miss the remainder of the season.
However, that doesn’t take away from what Verdigris was able to accomplish in all facets of the game Tuesday night.
“It’s still good to go get that W because (Gilyard) is a really good player and has the ability to beat people by herself,” Buntin said.
The Lady Cardinals face No. 4 Fort Gibson at 7 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals. The Lady Tigers routed Class 5A No. 12 Pryor 89-39 in the first round.
BOYS | VICTORY CHRISTIAN 61, VERDIGRIS 49: Trent Haddock was in the zone.
The 5-foot-10 senior gave Verdigris a 16-12 lead late in the first quarter after scoring six-consecutive points, and he looked determined to make a return trip to the Jerry Oquin Tournament semifinals. Chris Mason and the Conquerors had other plans.
It took the Cardinals nearly 20 minutes to double that point total as VC – sparked by a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds from Mason – used a 41-17 run through the next two and a half quarters to pull away. The Conquerors led by as many as 20 points as a result, but Verdigris closed the fourth period with a 16-8 run to make the result more respectable.
Haddock wound up with 26 points and three rebounds, finishing as the lone Cardinal to score in double figures. Lucas Lechlider contributed six points and 10 rebounds while Jaren Keith added seven points and one board.
Mason and Joshua Udoumoh combined for three three-point plays during the early stages of the huge run – with the former accounting for two – to take a 31-20 lead into halftime. Udoumoh, brother of Oklahoma State women’s basketball player Ruthie Udoumoh, finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
Verdigris (1-1) will play Fort Gibson at 4 p.m. Friday in the consolation semifinals. The Tigers fell to Pryor 66-60 in the first round.
VERDIGRIS 59, VICTORY CHRISTIAN 20
VC – Jessa Gilyard 10, Edwards 4, Elliott 4, Griffin 2.
VERDIGRIS – Lexy Borgstadt 13, Makenzie Blackwell 11, Jordan Chancellor 11, M. Borgstadt 7, Daniels 6, Cravens 5, B. Jones 2, E. Jones 2, York 2.
3-point goals: VC – none. Verdigris – Blackwell 1, M. Borgstadt 1, Chancellor 1.
Free throws: VC 4-7. Verdigris 8-15.
Rebounds: VC – Gilyard 4, Kerns 3, Dugan 2, Elliott 2, Edwards 2, Stubbs 2, #11 2. TOTAL 17. Verdigris – Daniels 6, Blackwell 4, L. Borgstadt 4, Chancellor 4, Team 3, Cravens 3, M. Borgstadt 2, Stout 2, B. Jones 2, E. Jones 1, York 1, Daniel 1, Bennett 1. TOTAL 34.
Turnovers: VC 33. Verdigris 22.
VICTORY CHRISTIAN 61, VERDIGRIS 49
VERDIGRIS – Trent Haddock 26, Keith 7, Lechlider 6, Bell 4, Buntin 3, Layton 2, Calvert 1.
VC – Chris Mason 26, Joshua Udoumoh 12, Malhi 7, Calhoon 6, Rodriguez 6, Grundy 4.
3-point goals: Verdigris – Haddock 3, Buntin 1. VC – Mason 1, Malhi 1.
Free throws: Verdigris 11-17. VC 9-14.
Rebounds: Verdigris – Lucas Lechlider 10, Calvert 5, Kirby 4, Team 3, Haddock 3, Layton 2, Ryan 2, Buntin 1, Lederman 1, Keith 1, Bell 1. TOTAL 33. VC – Mason 10, Grundy 5, Udoumoh 5, Patton 4, Malhi 4, Team 3, Rodriguez 2, Calhoon 1. TOTAL 34.
Turnovers: Verdigris 21. VC 17.