MIDWEST CITY — When Lexy Borgstadt broke away and caught the inbound pass along the baseline with 1.2 seconds remaining, only one thing was going through her mind.
‘Just make a layup.’
As the ball left her hand, she thought it was going in. After all, it had so many times before.
However, the ball somehow took a roll in the wrong direction after banking off the backboard. Time seemed to slow as the ball spun along the front of the rim before finally falling into the clutches of Sulphur’s 5-foot-11 forward Abby Beck at the buzzer.
That sound signified the end of the game and the Lady Cardinals’ season as 13th-ranked Sulphur stunned No. 7 Verdigris for a 49-47 upset win in the Class 4A Area II consolation bracket at Midwest City High School’s J.E. Sutton Field House on Thursday afternoon.
The Lady Cardinals finished the season with a 22-5 record while the Lady Bulldogs advanced to Friday’s area consolation semis against Ada.
“I was trying to finish because I didn’t think we should be done and that we needed to keep going,” said Borgstadt, who finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds. “I thought it was good, but then it started taking a weird roll, and I was like, ‘Crap.’ I tried to make sure I was in a position to get a rebound, but (the clock) just buzzed.”
Just moments before the heartbreaking finale, Borgstadt’s younger sister Morgan stood at the free-throw line with a one-and-one opportunity.
The freshman made the first, but with only 3.5 seconds remaining and Verdigris trailing by two, she had no choice but to purposely miss the second and hope for an offensive rebound.
Luckily for Lady Cardinals, Sulphur knocked the ball out of bounds during the scramble for the rebound, giving them one last chance to force overtime.
Verdigris coach Mike Buntin said though the ensuing shot didn’t fall despite them getting the look they wanted, that sequence didn’t decide his team’s fate.
“Lexy is going to take it hard, but it didn’t come down to that,” Buntin said. “It didn’t come down to our missed free throws or shots at the end. It came down to the fact that early, we missed way too many opportunities.”
The Lady Cardinals never led, trailing by eight at halftime thanks to seven first-half turnovers and some missed high-percentage shots.
Verdigris shot 16-of-51 overall (31.4 percent) and 5-of-17 from beyond the arc (29.4 percent). In comparison, Sulphur shot 47.4 percent overall despite making only 2 of 8 3-pointers.
Led by Korie Allensworth, who nearly notched a double-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds, Sulpur ballooned its lead to 13 in the third quarter.
Allensworth scored six of her points during that frame and 11 in the second half, but she wasn't the only one giving the Lady Cardinals fits.
Beck (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Makella Mobly (11 points, 2 rebounds) joined her in double figures, and Payton James was close behind with 8 points.
“They were very good offensively,” Buntin said. “They’re one of the first teams we’ve had all year that was able to beat us off the dribble consistently, and they made shots early to put us in a big hole. We missed a few opportunities early that I felt like could’ve kept us closer, but our kids never quit and never gave up."
Despite that distribution of wealth and a 41-28 lead in the third period, Sulphur couldn't quite rid itself of Verdigris.
The Borgstadt sisters went to work, leading the Lady Cardinals on an 18-3 to tie things at 46 after Morgan Borgstadt recorded a steal followed by a three-point play with 1:36 remaining.
She and Lexy Borgstadt combined for 14 points during that stretch, and Kylee McGuire contributed with a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter.
That was the closest Verdigris would get to extending its season, though.
Morgan Borgstadt swiped another steal with less than a minute to play, but Allensworth almost immediately returned the favor, leading to her game-winning layup at the 36-second mark.
“At least we went out and gave everything we could,” Buntin said. “We got down 13 and could’ve given up many times but never did. We did everything we could possibly do and had three or four chances to take the lead late.”
The loss ended the careers of four seniors — McGuire, Kylee Darden, Kayla Darden and Megan Turner — who accumulated an 81-31 record as Lady Cardinals.
The group tallied many wins over the years, but Buntin said this senior class made the 2019-20 season the most enjoyable of his more than 20-year career.
“It’s a special group of kids, and this senior class has been one of our most successful," Buntin said. "We knew they were going to be when I started here. It’s a tough feeling, but for everybody except one team, this is going to happen. The season has to end at some point.”
Of course, Verdigris will be back in contention for a state tournament berth next season with the likes of the Borgstadts, Jordan Chancellor and Mackenzie Blackwell returning.
Lexy Borgstadt is already eager to get back on the court. And when that time comes, she said it won't end in another heartbreak.
“I just want to make it to state,” Lexy Borgstadt said. “I don’t want to feel like this next year where I was super close or feel like I should’ve went.”
SULPHUR 49, VERDIGRIS 47
SULPHUR -- Korie Allensworth 15, Abby Beck 12, Makella Mobly 11, James 8, Lynch 2, Duck 1.
VERDIGRIS -- Morgan Borgstadt 18, Lexy Borgstadt 12, McGuire 6, Chancellor 6, Kayla Darden 3, Blackwell 2.
Sulphur 18 13 10 8 -- 49
Verdigris 11 12 12 12 -- 47
3-point goals: Sulphur -- James 2.
Verdigris -- Lexy Borgstadt 2, McGuire 2, Chancellor 1.
Rebounds: Sulphur -- Allensworth 9, Lynch 8, Beck 8, Team 4, Mobly 2, Beesley 2, Duck 1.
Verdigris -- Morgan Borgstadt 8, Lexy Borgstadt 7, Chancellor 5, Turner 4, Kayla Darden 3, Team 3, Blackwell 1.