CATOOSA — For the Verdigris boys’ basketball team, it was the same song, second verse on Tuesday night.
For the second-straight game, the Cardinals fell behind by a big margin before mounting a valiant comeback only to see their efforts fall short.
Verdigris trailed No. 13 Catoosa by 15 points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, closing the deficit to just three before succumbing to the Indians, 62-54, in a battle of Class 4A Rogers County foes at the Catoosa Indians Activity Center.
After starting the season 4-0, the Cardinals dropped their second-straight contest despite senior guard Tyler Haddock finishing with a double-double by pouring in a game-high 30 points and snaring 11 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the No. 10-ranked Verdigris girls did not score a field goal in the opening quarter but took charge from there, putting the game away with a huge third quarter on the way to a 46-28 triumph.
Senior Kayla Darden and freshman Morgan Borgstadt had identical totals—each with 12 points and nine rebounds—to lead the way for the Cardinals (5-1).
CATOOSA 62, VERDIGRIS 54 (B)
Catoosa (4-2) looked to have the game in hand, holding a 51-36 advantage with 5:17 to play after a 3-pointer by J Coons, his fourth of the contest.
But the Cardinals implemented full-court pressure to force the Indians into several miscues and Tyler Haddock, along with his younger brother, Trent, combined to fuel a Verdigris rally.
The siblings combined for 10 points in a 14-2 run that brought Verdigris to within 53-50 with 2:51 to play. Trent Haddock had 8 points in that spree, including a four-point play (3-pointer plus a free throw).
But five-unanswered points by the Indians in the next 90 seconds were enough to keep Verdigris at bay.
“We had a shot,” Cardinals coach Chris Houk said. “That’s all you can ask for. You want to give yourself a chance.”
Just three nights earlier against Siloam Springs (Ark.) in the championship game of the Jerry Oquin Basketball Tournament, the Cardinals charged back from a 16-point first-half deficit to pull within three in the third quarter before the Panthers pulled away to earn the tourney title.
“I guess we just can’t get over that three-point hump,” Houk said. “It’s there. The fight is there. That is something to build on.”
Tyler Haddock’s performance, which included a 9-for-17 night from the floor and an 11-for-14 outing at the free throw line, kept the Cardinals in the contest against Catoosa before the Cardinals’ late rally.
“He is laser-focused this year,” Houk said of his sharp-shooting guard. “Tyler is taking his last year as a Cardinal seriously. We wouldn’t be where we are without him.”
Tyler Haddock sees promise in this year’s Cardinals squad.
“We all love each other,” he said. “It is a team effort every night. It’s early in the season. We have time to make improvements. It’s back to work from here.”
VERDIGRIS 46, CATOOSA 28 (G)
Although the Cardinals did not score from the field until the second minute of the second quarter, they used six free throws to stay even with the Indians (3-3) through one period.
But Kayla Darden finally broke the ice as her driving layup with 6:53 to go in the second quarter put Verdigris in front for the first time.
“We never quit playing hard,” Verdigris coach Mike Buntin said. “I knew this would be a trap game and I knew we would struggle. We played in a tough tourney last week (Jerry Oquin tourney) that affected us mentally and physically coming into tonight.”
Darden’s initial basket for Verdigris started an 8-1 run, but Catoosa responded to knot the game a final time at 14-14.
But Darden, who had 8 points and six rebounds in the opening half, followed her own miss to put Verdigris ahead for good and then added another field goal as the Cardinals took a 20-15 advantage into halftime.
“I thought Kayla was extremely aggressive on offense and was able to get to the rim,” Buntin said.
The Cardinals then outscored Catoosa 15-2 in the third quarter to seal the victory. Kylee McGuire connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the period—the Cardinals’ only two from long distance in the game—to spearhead the third quarter uprising.
Morgan Borgstadt had 8 points in the second half. She attempted 14 free throws in the game, making six.
“She is extremely aggressive in getting to the basket,” Buntin said. “It was a key for us in the second half that she was able to get to the line and then hit her free throws.”