Verdigris girls coach Mike Buntin

VERDIGRIS — Lady Cardinals girls basketball coach Mike Buntin crossed an elusive item off his coaching bucket list on Tuesday night.

In leading ninth-ranked Verdigris to a 44-43 upset of Class 4A No. 7 Vinita at Jack Collins Fieldhouse, Buntin earned his first win over Scott Reed.

According to IWasAtTheGame.com, Reed ranks 65th in all-time girls basketball coaching wins in Oklahoma with 497. He is 13th among active coaches.

“I’ve never beaten them,” Buntin said. “I was 0-11 against Scott Reed, so it felt good to beat him. He is a living legend; one of the best coaches in the state. He’s one of the guys I look up to, so it was good to finally knock that off my list.”

Lexy Borgstadt, a junior, tallied 20 points and seven rebounds in the win, including the game-winning offensive rebound and putback. Her sister, Morgan, chipped in 10 points and six boards.

The boys game appeared to be heading down the same path late in the third quarter, but Verdigris closed with a 26-4 run to end its two-game slide with a 75-52 decision.

Tyler Haddock managed a game-high 19 points while Jaren Keith and Trent Haddock added 16 and 10 points, respectively.

Verdigris hosts Rogers County foe Oologah in another doubleheader beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

GIRLS | VERDIGRIS 44, VINITA 43: It is said great players make great plays, and Lexy Borgstadt has become synonymous with that phrase.

Her offensive rebound and putback layup with 24 seconds remaining served as the game-winner, giving the Lady Cardinals a one-point victory over Class 4A No. 7 Vinita.

“We were on them all game for someone to step up and go make a play, and she did at the right time,” Mike Buntin said.

The junior expected to have the ball in her hands with Verdigris trailing by one, but she wasn’t discouraged as Kayla Darden darted toward the basket after the Lady Hornets disrupted the drawn-up play.

Although Lexy Borgstadt had confidence in Darden’s ability to score, she didn’t want to leave anything to chance. She refused to lose to Vinita for a third time in her high school career.

“We have a play where we were supposed to get the ball at the top, and it points in where there’s two screens at the top and she can pick which way, and one rolls and pops,” Lexy Borgstadt said. “I don’t really know how the ball ended up on the side, but Kayla saw a lane and took it. And I’m like, ‘I gotta follow it, I gotta follow it to get a rebound.’ I had to make it and get fouled or at least make it. I just had to.

“If Kayla didn’t have it, I knew I was going to get it.”

The grab was her fourth offensive rebound of the night, providing a nice turnaround from Monday’s Bank of Locust Grove Invitational championship game in which the Lady Cardinals were outrebounded on the offensive glass by a 16-7 count.

Verdigris (12-3) won the battle this time around, 12-6. In all, it pulled down 28 rebounds to Vinita’s 20.

“We didn’t expect it, but we challenged them with it because we got outrebounded so bad in offensive rebounds against Locust Grove,” Buntin said. “At halftime, we told them everyone is standing, and when a shot goes up, Lexy is the only one rebounding. Somebody else had to go help her out to give us extra opportunities.

“We were tired and fatigued, and we knew shots weren’t going to fall, so we needed to go get those second opportunities.”

Darden certainly answered the call, finishing with five offensive rebounds and seven total. Her first four boards were of the offensive variety.

The senior also tallied 8 points, including a layup early in the fourth period that brought the Lady Cardinals within four at 40-36. Those 2 points were part of a 12-3 run that helped Verdigris overcome an 8-point deficit (40-32).

“We play (Darden) at a 4-position even though she’s a true guard, and she’s a matchup problem for a lot of people,” Buntin said. “She’s deceptive and quick off the dribble, and she has a knack for finding the basketball.”

The lead changed three times in the final 1:01, three of which came in the final 36.1 seconds after Lexy Borgstadt and Kennady Roach traded blows at the free-throw line. There were eight lead changes and 12 ties between the teams.

The Lady Hornets (10-2) were held to only one field goal in the final frame.

Lizzie Shephard led the Lady Hornets with 14 points and five rebounds. Hallie Reed and Roach, who nabbed a team-high six rebounds, joined her in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Verdigris survived Vinita’s five 3-pointers despite not hitting any itself.

Lady Hornets junior Emma Speer’s 3-point shot with 2.6 seconds fell short, extending the Lady Cardinals’ winning streak to five games.

“They ran a great play where they ran their best player to the backside across their post players, and our girls got hung up, so they got a great look,” Buntin said. “But we felt like if we got them on the move, we’d be all right.

“Because they’re all such good shooters, I thought we were going to be in trouble when we lost (Speer), but I’m thankful it didn’t go.”

BOYS | VERDIGRIS 75, VINITA 52: Ethan Bell could feel the momentum shift almost immediately.

His 3-pointer late in the third quarter not only halted Vinita’s rally that dwindled an 11-point Verdigris lead to one at 49-48, but it also sparked perhaps one of the Cardinals’ most impressive offensive stretches this season.

The junior kickstarted a 26-4 run that spilled into the fourth quarter and ended Verdigris’ two-game losing streak.

“The momentum just went (explosion-like noise),” said Bell, who finished with 9 points and seven rebounds. “I heard the crowd, and we were just on a roll. I just had to make it and do whatever I could for my team. I had to knock it down because we had to build the lead up. This was a much-needed win. We needed this after the two losses in Locust Grove, and I felt like we played as a team.

“We struggled, but we picked it right back up.”

Seven Cardinals scored during the unprecedented run, including star junior Jaren Keith.

Keith managed only 1 point in a 65-56 loss to Sequoyah Tahlequah in the Bank of Locust Grove Invitational on Monday night, so he desperately sought to regain his fluid shooting rhythm that has wreaked havoc on opposing defenses all season.

Keith finished with 16 points—eight in the third quarter—while also grabbing seven rebounds. He at one point scored seven-straight from the end of the second period to the opening moments of the third.

“I knew I had to come back and pick up for my team and help us out to get the win,” Keith said. “My teammates drove and found me, and I shot it and got a couple of them to go.”

Elsewhere on the court, Tyler Haddock followed his 30-point outing against Sequoyah Tahlequah with 19 points and nine rebounds.

His younger brother, Trent, managed double figures as well, tallying 10 points and five boards.

Caden Parnell, a freshman, and senior Brant Hager had impactful performances as well, combining for 13 points and eight rebounds.

Verdigris (8-4) dominated on the boards, outrebounding Vinita (3-9) by a whopping mark of 43-17 with a 17-2 advantage in offensive rebounds.

Cain Anderson, who hit six 3-balls, scored 11 of his 19 points during the Hornets’ third-quarter run, but he was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Verdigris coach Chris Houk said there was nothing complicated about his team’s increased intensity down the stretch.

“We got stops, and we finally started making some,” Houk said. “They stopped making some, and we started making some. That’s what needed to happen. We were a little worried because the first three quarters looked like the last two games in Locust Grove, so I’m glad we eventually turned it around.

“We just need to carry that over to Oologah on Friday.”

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