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Verdigris senior Jaren Keith

On a night Verdigris boys basketball struggled shooting, its second-quarter defense proved to be its saving grace.

The Class 4A No. 12 Cardinals held Westville to six points during that frame, allowing them to escape with a 65-54 victory despite hitting only two 3-pointers and nine field goals overall in the first round of the Chouteau Tournament on Monday night. They also shot only 17-of-28 (60.7%) from the free-throw line.

The Yellowjackets scored 12, 15 and 21 in the other three quarters, an average of 16 points per period.

Verdigris (10-1) led by four after the first quarter but ballooned that advantage to 12 at 30-18 going into halftime.

Westville (5-3) won the second half 36-35, further emphasizing the importance of the second quarter. Had the Yellowjackets even just equaled their first-quarter output, that might’ve been enough to score the upset of the Cardinals.

The fourth period was especially entertaining, with the teams combining for 43 points. Verdigris won the frame 22-21 thanks to four players – Zander Kirby, Trent Haddock, Dylan White and Lucas Lechlider – scoring at least four points during that eight-minute stretch. Kirby led the way, scoring six of his seven points.

Jaren Keith led the Cardinals in scoring with 14 points, though he managed only two of those in the second half. Haddock and Lechlider joined him in double figures with 13 points apiece.

Cale Jacob finished with a game-high 19 points for Westville while Ayan Sanchez added 16, half of which came in the fourth quarter.

Verdigris plays the winner of Keys/Salina at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.

BOX SCORE

VERDIGRIS 65, WESTVILLE 54

WESTVILLE – Cale Jacob 19, Ayan Sanchez 16, Fourkiller 8, Barton 5, Martin 4, Hembree 2.

VERDIGRIS – Jaren Keith 14, Trent Haddock 13, Lucas Lechlider 13, Bell 8, Kirby 7, White 6, Buntin 2, Ryan 2.

Westville 12 15 21 -- 54 
Verdigris 16 14 13 22 -- 65 

3-point goals: Westville – Jacob 4, Barton 1, Fourkiller 1. Verdigris – Haddock 1, Keith 1.

Free throws: Westville 10-18. Verdigris 17-28.

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