CATOOSA - The No. 14 Verdigris Cardinals fell 50-29 against the top-ranked Muldrow Bulldogs in a Class 4A area girls basketball consolation championship game Saturday at the Catoosa Indian Activity Center.
Verdigris finished 22-7. Muldrow (27-1) will face ninth-ranked Holland Hall in the state quarterfinals Thursday night at 8:30p.m. in Mustang.
"Muldrow is really good," said Verdigris head coach Mike Buntin. "Their match up zone is really difficult to score on. They are so long and athletic."
Kylee McGuire paced the Cardinals with nine points. Taylen Collins scored a game-high 17 points while teammate Hannah Boyett also finished in double figures with ten for the Bulldogs.
It was the final game for four Verdigris seniors (Callie Battenfield, Alissa Ryan, Ellie Franklin, and Caitlyn Fox).
"We are losing a great senior class," said Buntin. "One of my favorite groups. I'm going to miss each of them. However we still have a lot returning. Hopefully our younger kids saw what it takes to win in 4A and it will make them hungry to continue to improve for the future."
It was also the end of an era as Callie was the last of four Battenfield kids that have left their mark on Verdigris athletics over the past decade.
Brothers Blake and Peyton won multiple state championships in baseball while sister Keara was a standout basketball player despite being hampered with knee injuries during her four years.
"The Battenfield family has been great to me," said Buntin. "It’s not just about the athleticism but the character of their kids. We need more kids in world like them."
Battenfield scored six points against Muldrow but once again was stout on defense. She guarded both Collins and Boyett throughout the game and neither had much success against her.
"I’ve tried telling everyone that Callie is the best defender in the state," said Buntin. "As a team we are going to miss that more than anything. I knew I could assign her to guard anybody and she would shut them down. She is an incredible kid."
Muldrow scored the first eight points, but Verdigris fought back and trailed just 14-11 after the first quarter.
The Bulldogs extended their advantage to 29-16 at the half and 38-22 after three periods. The Cardinals scored the first five points of the final frame, but that's as close as they would get.
"I was really proud of our kids," said Buntin. They could have given up on numerous occasions and continued to fight. We had a tremendous season. I think 4A is the toughest class in the state and we finished 22-7 and one game away from the state tournament."