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Verdigris senior Ethan Bell shoots a 3-pointer at Adair on Friday, Dec. 18.

VERDIGRIS -- Ethan Bell clapped his hands and signaled for the ball.

He was on a hot shooting streak and didn't want to lose it. It was only halftime warmups, but he missed that feeling of accomplishment.

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He made six-consecutive 3-pointers before a rogue ball from fellow senior Brandon Lederman knocked his shot off course. Annoyed but not deterred, Bell shifted his focus to seeing some game action for the first time in two weeks.

During a game against Keys on Friday, Jan. 22 in the Chouteau Tournament semifinals, the 5-foot-10 guard suffered an ACL tear.

An injury of that magnitude is usually season-ending, but not for Bell. His mentality is so ironclad, nothing was going to keep him from returning to the court to help Class 4A No. 9 Verdigris, which extended its winning streak to 16 games after a 49-46 win over Oologah on Friday night.

"Momma ain't raise no baby," Bell said. "It was awesome; I missed being out there. It's crazy how when you lose it, you realize how much you really needed that in your life and how much that really meant to you. I learned that."

Bell didn't get his usual starting minutes, but he did play a few in the second half.

He didn't show up on the stat sheet with any points or rebounds, but proving he could compete with an ACL tear was enough of an accomplishment for his return to the hardwood.

"I was hoping his first game back he would maybe go in with fresh legs and be able to get a couple of shots, but it was good to see him back," Verdigris coach Chris Houk said. "He handled practice all week pretty good."

The likes of Lucas Lechlider, Brandon Lederman and Trent Haddock handled the scoring load.

Meanwhile, Bell was focused on getting back into the rhythm of things.

Rust was inevitable, so he decided to embrace his lessened role.

"Momma ain't raise no baby, so I'm going to finish it out even though I didn't play very much," said Bell, who was averaging right around 10 points per game before his injury. "You gotta make those minutes count. I'll fix (my shot). I've been off for five games and started practicing Monday. Originally I wasn't going to play, but I talked to my parents, and they were like, 'Let's do it.'

"I've got nothing to lose."

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