CHOUTEAU — Verdigris got a chance to take on the defending Class 2A state boys champion in Rejoice Christian on Saturday night in the championship game of the Chouteau Invitational.
The Eagles looked like they were in postseason form, holding Verdigris to just seven first-half points while building a 19-point halftime cushion on the way to an easy 64-43 victory at Chouteau High School’s Wildcat Field House.
Jaren Keith paced Verdigris with 14 points but was the only double-digit scorer for the Cardinals, who saw their season-high five-game winning streak snapped.
In girls action, Emily Stout scored 8 of her game-high 10 points during a big third-quarter uprising, and 11 players cracked the scoring column as the Verdigris junior varsity rolled past Westville 51-20 to capture seventh place.
Boys | Rejoice Christian 64, Verdigris 43: The Cardinals (12-5) never led against the fourth-ranked Eagles (10-5).
With the inside presence of 6-foo-7 Jaden Lietzke and 6-4 Jayden McDonald for Rejoice, Verdigris connected on just three field goals and did not attempt a free throw in the first half.
The Cardinals were only 3 of 21 from the floor, including 1 of 12 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were a much more efficient 12 of 26 from the floor in establishing a 26-7 cushion at the break.
The Cardinals did bounce back in the third quarter, outscoring Rejoice 23-16 to cut their deficit to 12 points entering the final period.
But Rejoice started the final eight minutes with eight-unanswered points on a pair of treys and a field goal to lead 50-30 to end any hopes of a Verdigris comeback.
Lietzke snared 17 boards to help the Eagles win the rebounding battle 37-17. McDonald tallied a game-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor.
“I thought our team played as hard as it could,” Cardinals coach Chris Houk said.
The runner-up finish was the second for the Cardinals this season after claiming second at the Jerry Oquin Tournament in Inola last month. Verdigris also nabbed fourth at the Locust Grove Invitational earlier this month.
“Losses are always hard,” Houk said.
“You want to win so bad. You want it (tournament crown) for the kids.”
Girls | Verdigris JV 51, Westville 20: After surrendering leads in losses in their two earlier games in the tournament, this time the Cardinals did not let up after bolting to a 11-3 lead after one quarter.
After establishing an early advantage, Verdigris added back-to-back 16-point quarters to take command.
In the second period, Bailey Cravens netted all 6 of her points to key the frame while Stout responded with a pair of 3-pointers to go along with another basket for 8 points to start the second half.
Brooklyn Fugate notched 7 points while Halle Ryan and Logan Hamilton joined Cravens with 6 points apiece.
REJOICE CHRISTIAN 64, VERDIGRIS 43
VERDIGRIS—Jaren Keith 14, Tyler Haddock 7, Ethan Bell 6, Aaron Buntin 5, Caden Parnell 4, Brant Hager 4, Logan Cagle 3.
REJOICE CHRISTIAN—Jayden McDonald 19, Gage Barham 13, Jaden Lietzke 12, Riley Walker 8, Harrison Hunnicutt 6, Chance Wilson 4, Jaron Foote 2.
3-point field goals: Verdigris—Bell 2, Cagle 1, Buntin 1. Rejoice Christian—Barham 2, Walker 1.
Rebounds: Verdigris—Hager 6, Parnell 4, Tyler Haddock 2, Keith 2, Bell 2, Cagle 1. Rejoice Christian—Lietzke 17, McDonald 8, Wilson 4, Walker 3, Barham 3, Hunnicutt 2.
VERDIGRIS JV 51, WESTVILLE 20
VERDIGRIS—Emily Stout 10, Brooklyn Fugate 7, Halle Ryan 6, Logan Hamilton 6, Bailey Cravens 6, Daeya Moses 5, Emma Anderson 3, Madi York 2, Ciara Daniel 2, Evee Jones 2, Courtney Wickham 2.
Westville—Yari Paine 8, Josie Wilkie 3, Joey Do 2, Madison Manning 2, Emma Swank 2, Chaselyn White 2, Cindy Lee 1.