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Verdigris junior Jaren Keith (10) avoids Sequoyah defenders while on his way to the basket on Saturday, Jan. 18.

CHOUTEAU — Verdigris coach Chris Houk went early and often to his bench Thursday afternoon.

When called upon, the Cardinals reserves did not disappoint their head coach.

Led by 14 points from Ethan Bell and 11 points by Zach Daniel, nine bench players accounted for 47 points in Verdigris’ 67-26 romp of Colcord in the opening round of the Chouteau Invitational at Wildcat Field House.

With the victory, the Cardinals (11-4) extended their winning streak to four games—matching their longest such streak this season—and advanced to the semifinals of the eight-team boys’ bracket in the tournament being played at Chouteau High School.

Verdigris will meet the winner of the Cascia Hall-Salina contest at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the semfinals.

Bell had 14 points in the first half, going 6 of 7 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers, to help stake the Class 4A Cardinals to a 38-10 cushion by halftime.

Of the Cardinals’ point total at the half, 25 points came from players off the bench.

“I am not surprised,” Houk said of the effectiveness of the Verdigris reserves.

“They are great kids and very coachable. They are all about doing the right thing.”

Besides the play of the bench players, the Cardinals’ full-court pressure forced Class 2A Concord (5-5) into 21 turnovers by halftime and limited the Hornets to just 3 of 19 shooting from the field.

After the teams traded baskets in the third quarter, Verdigris put the game away by outscoring the Hornets 16-4 in the final period.

Daniel had all 11 of his points in the final eight minutes, connecting on 5 of 6 field goals, including a trey.

“I just do what the coaches ask me to do,” Daniel, a junior guard, said of his role as one of the team’s reserves.

“If someone is having an off night, somebody steps in and picks it up.”

All nine Cardinals who entered the game off the bench broke into the scoring column.

Dylan White notched 4 points and 5 rebounds while Aaron Buntin tallied 4 points and grabbed 3 boards.

In limited action, Brock Fugate, a senior forward, pulled down 4 rebounds, taking one board and going coast-to-coast for a layup while drawing a foul on the play. 

Among the starters, Jaren Keith netted 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers and Tyler Haddock snared a team-high 7 rebounds.

With the team matching its season high for consecutive wins, Daniel sees the squad coming together as a unit.

“We are starting to click and that is exciting to see,” he said. “We are getting better all-around.”

GIRLS | CHOUTEAU 28, VERDIGRIS JV 17: The Verdigris junior varsity girls team opened with an early five-point lead but could not maintain that advantage as host Chouteau rallied for a 28-17 victory in first-round girls bracket play.

Daeya Moses canned a pair of free throws, Brooklyn Fugate swished a 3-pointer and Ciara Daniel added a basket in the lane to help the Cardinals build a 7-2 advantage with 2:20 to play in the first quarter.

But Verdigris would score just one field goal over the next two and one-half quarters while the Ladycats took control.

With the game knotted at 9-9 midway through the second quarter, Loribeth Miller notched 8-unanswered points to put Chouteau ahead to stay and give the Ladycats a 17-9 lead at halftime.

Fugate finished with a team-high 8 points while Moses and Daniel each added 4 points for the Cardinals.

Chouteau’s Danielle Sawyer paced all scorers with 11 while Miller chipped in 10.

Verdigris met Salina in the consolation semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday. Salina dropped a 43-30 decision to Okay in the opening girls game Thursday.

Boys

VERDIGRIS 67, COLCORD 26

VERDIGRIS—Ethan Bell 14, Jaren Keith 12, Zach Daniel 11, Tyler Haddock 4, Aaron Buntin 4, Caden Parnell 4, Dylan White 4, Cameron Lederman 3, Brandon Lederman 3, Dylan White 2, Zander Kirby 2, Logan Cagle 2, Trent Haddock 2.

COLCORD—Stormy Odle 8, Charlie Prater 5, Evan Williams 4, Merrick Ellis 4, Dylan Davis 2, Daklen Clinton 2, Jerred Ford 1.

Verdigris;12;26;13;16—67

Colcord;3;7;12;4—26

3-point field goals: Verdigris—Keith 2, Bell 2, Daniel 1, Brandon Lederman 1. Colcord—Odle 1.

Rebounds: Verdigris—Tyler Haddock 7, White 5, Brant Hager 4, Fugate 4, Buntin 3, Kirby 3, Bell 2, Parnell 2, Trent Haddock 1, Keith 1. Colcord—Ellis 7, Prater 6, Williams 5, Gabe Tuell 5, Davis 2, Ford 2, Odle 1, Bryan Minard 1.

Girls

CHOUTEAU 28, VERDIGRIS JV 17

VERDIGRIS JV—Brooklyn Fugate 6, Daeya Moses 4, Ciara Daniel 4, Logan Hamilton 2, Evee Jones 1.

CHOUTEAU—Danielle Sawyer 11, Loribeth Miller 10, Talyiah Schnecks 4, Ashlee Pierce 3.

Chouteau;7;10;6;5—28

Verdigris JV;7;2;4;4—17

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