LOCUST GROVE – Just when it seemed Verdigris was on the brink of defeat, Brandon Lederman responded the only way he knew how – by getting buckets.
Specifically, 3-point buckets.
The 6-foot-4 senior sparked a 23-9 run with three triples in the final 10 minutes, scoring 11 of his 16 points during that span to lead the Class 4A No. 18 Cardinals to a 55-50 victory over defending Class A champion Garber in the Bank of Locust Grove Tournament semifinals Friday night at Pirate Arena. He drained a shot from deep in the first quarter as well, bringing his total to four.
The timely spurt came only moments after Garber’s TJ Bennett hit a 3-ball of his own to give the Wolverines a 41-32 lead with just under 2:20 remaining in the third quarter. Verdigris’ inside weapon Lucas Lechlider, who came close to a second-consecutive double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds, picked up his fourth foul seconds before that shot, forcing him out of the game until late in the fourth.
“I knew I had to step up because both our bigs, Zander (Kirby) too, were in foul trouble,” said Lederman, who also grabbed five rebounds. “I’m that last guy that needs to fill that spot if I need to, so I just stepped up when I needed to, and it worked out for us. If they got the ball to me, I was going to let it fly. If I had enough space and separation, I was just going to keep shooting it.”
Lederman’s shooting was contagious, for fellow senior Ethan Bell scored all six of his points on two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the first of which gave the Cardinals the lead for good at 46-43.
Trent Haddock, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds, found a rhythm in the second half as well with nine points. Six of those came in the final period.
“If we don’t have that, we don’t win,” Verdigris coach Chris Houk said of Lederman’s contributions. “It’s good for a senior to be able to do that and help his teammates out. You just gotta see one go in, and that can snowball. That’s what happened. It snowballed, and it’s fun when that happens.”
Garber, ranked third in Class A, had success of its own from beyond the arc with seven triples, led by Bennett with five. Elsewhere, Tydonte Chester proved troublesome for Verdigris, using his 6-4, 230-pound frame and aggressive play in the paint to put Lechlider and Zander Kirby in foul trouble.
Chester notched a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolverines.
The win marked the Cardinals’ second win in three games over a top-five team.
“We were down one starter, so we overcame that, and our bench is great,” Houk said. “They came in and gave us sparks, and Dylan (White) came in and played awesome on top of a zone defense.
"I’m very proud of the boys."
The Cardinals (6-1) face Class 3A No. 4 Adair at 7:20 p.m. Saturday in a rematch of Verdigris’ 67-58 overtime victory on Dec. 18.
VERDIGRIS 55, GARBER 50
GARBER – Tydonte Chester 25, TJ Bennett 16, Nagel 3, Johnston 3, Light 2, Bishop 1.
VERDIGRIS – Brandon Lederman 16, Trent Haddock 14, Lechlider 9, Keith 6, Bell 6, Kirby 4.
3-point goals: Garber – Bennett 5, Nagel 1. Verdigris – Lederman 4, Bell 2, Haddock 2.
Free throws: Garber 11-16. Verdigris 8-9.
Rebounds: Garber – Chester 10, Light 4, Bennett 2, Johnston 2, Nagel 2, Bishop 2, Team 2. TOTAL 24. Verdigris – Lucas Lechlider 10, Haddock 6, Lederman 5, Keith 3, Team 3, Bell 2, Layton 1, Ryan 1. TOTAL 31.
Turnovers: Garber 12. Verdigris 15.