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Verdigris senior Jaren Keith (10) glides toward the basket during the first half of Tuesday's game against Catoosa. Keith led all scorers with 17 points.

VERDIGRIS – With every shot he took, Brandon Lederman felt he was getting in more of a rhythm.

The 6-foot-4 senior forward didn’t lead Verdigris in scoring – that honor belonged to Jaren Keith – but the shots he made were just as impactful. Lederman hit four of the team’s eight 3-pointers, finishing with a season-high 12 points and a rebound to help propel the Cardinals to a 66-44 victory over Rogers County rival Catoosa on Tuesday night at the Verdigris Activity Center.

“I’d put it like I’m the spark when I get my 3-game going because that’s what I’ve been labeled as,” Lederman said of his role with the Cardinals. “I try to do more, but if I have my shot, I’m going to shoot it.

“When my shot goes in, I feel it. I’m building up and getting on fire.”

A serious ankle injury kept Lederman sidelined for most of his junior year, but according to Verdigris coach Chris Houk, he has settled in this season while embracing his role as a sharpshooter.

Lederman has scored 33 points through four games (8.25 ppg), all of which came from beyond the arc. His 11 3-pointers are a team-best, with Trent Haddock coming in a distant second at six.

“That’s good to see, and it’s good to see that those guys have confidence in getting it to him,” Houk said.

Despite that success, Lederman said he believes he has yet to reach his ceiling as a basketball player.

As the season progresses, he hopes to use his 6-4 frame to give the Cardinals (3-1) an inside presence that complements the abilities of fellow big men Lucas Lechlider and Zander Kirby.

“I feel like I can hit those 3s, but I also want to do more inside,” said Lederman, whose brother Cameron also hit a triple in the 22-point win. “I have a big frame, so I feel like I can score more down low as well. Just me taking it off the dribble or catching it off the post, getting my shots that way, too.”

Lederman’s first 3-ball gave Verdigris a 15-9 lead in the first quarter, and the Indians (1-4) got within that six-point margin only once more the remainder of the game.

Keith, Ethan Bell and Haddock took over from there, stretching the advantage to as many as 20 points in the third quarter before Lederman hit his next shot. Two more Lederman 3-pointers helped push that lead to 28 points at 60-32 in the fourth before Catoosa closed the game with a 12-6 run.

Keith led all scorers with 17 points, at one point scoring 12-consecutive points for Verdigris spanning from the end of the first half to the opening moments of the third quarter. He also grabbed two rebounds.

Bell added 11 points and four rebounds while Haddock notched 10 points and three boards. Lechlider (four points, nine rebounds) and Kirby (seven points, six rebounds) paced Verdigris to a 33-31 advantage on the glass.

Josh Whistance led the Indians with 16 points and four rebounds, and Issac Harris joined him in double figures with 14 points and two boards. Chris Brown pulled down a team-high seven rebounds to go along with three points while Adam Shuck (seven points, five rebounds) and Clay Fannin (four points, six rebounds) had notable performances as well.

“It’s always good to win, no matter who it is,” Houk said. “Of course, it’s an up-the-street rivalry, but it doesn’t seem like it’s a huge rivalry. But it’s just good to get another win and move on to that next one, which is a big one.”

Houk was referring to Verdigris’ road showdown with Class 3A No. 3 Adair at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Warriors (3-0) are fresh off winning the Adair Invitational over the weekend, averaging 71 points per game. They nearly reached the century mark in a 99-62 victory over Jay in the semifinals.

“They’re physical, and they deny with up-in-your-face defense,” Houk said. “They’re really sound defensively, and they’re physical kids who aren’t going to back down from anything. They’re going to be able to score, and they’re athletic. They just got out of football, but that athleticism transfers to the basketball court, and they bring that physicality from the football field to the basketball court.

“If you’re not ready to handle it, it can really, really fluster some kids.”

Editor's note: The girls game was canceled because Catoosa was forced to quarantined after encountering COVID-19 issues. The Lady Cardinals (3-1) return to action at 6 p.m. Friday at Class 3A No. 4 Adair.

BOX SCORE

VERDIGRIS 66, CATOOSA 44

CATOOSA – Josh Whistance 16, Issac Harris 14, Shuck 7, Fannin 4, Brown 3.

VERDIGRIS – Jaren Keith 17, Brandon Lederman 12, Ethan Bell 11, Trent Haddock 10, Kirby 7, Lechlider 4, Cameron Lederman 3, Buntin 2.

Catoosa 11 10 16 -- 44 
Verdigris 1918 16 13 -- 66 

3-points goals: Catoosa – Harris 2. Verdigris – B. Lederman 4, Haddock 2, Bell 1, C. Lederman 1.

Free throws: Catoosa 10-12. Verdigris 8-11.

Rebounds: Catoosa – Brown 7, Fannin 6, Shuck 5, Whistance 4, Team 3, McCawley 2, Harris 2, Taft 2. TOTAL 31. Verdigris – Lechlider 9, Kirby 6, Bell 4, Team 4, Haddock 3, Keith 2, Ryan 2, B. Lederman 1, Layton 1, Buntin 1. TOTAL 33.

Turnovers: Catoosa 18. Verdigris 6.

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