From the outset, it was a game of catch up Tuesday night for the Verdigris High School girls’ basketball team.
And while guard Callie Battenfield reached the 1,000-point plateau for her career, the senior could not add a victory to the night’s accomplishments for the Cardinals.
Verdigris, ranked 14th, fell behind by 11 points in the game’s first five minutes and still trailed by 12 points early in the fourth quarter before storming back only to fall 45-43 to No. 11 Oologah in a battle of Class 4A juggernauts on the Cardinals’ home floor.
In boys’ action, in a tale of two halves, Oologah rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit before erupting for 38 second-half points—ending the game on a 16-3 run—to take a 57-50 verdict.
Both Cardinals teams return to their home floor for their next action Friday against Claremore Sequoyah.
Oologah 45, Verdigris 43 (girls): The Mustangs (17-3) raced out of the gate, tallying the game’s first nine points, and led 13-2 with 2:56 to play in the opening quarter.
“We were just playing way too fast early in the game,” Cardinals Head Coach Mike Buntin said of his team’s slow start.
“We were allowing their (defensive) pressure to take us out of our comfort zone.”
One comfort zone Verdigris (15-5) was unable to reach was with its three-point shooting.
The Cardinals did not connect on any of their 12 long-distance attempts in the game. Meanwhile, Oologah countered with 18 points from beyond the arc. The Mustangs hit on 6-of-13 treys, including 4-of-7, to take a 27-18 lead at halftime despite seven first-half points by the Cardinals Lexy Borgstadt.
“We have to play with more confidence on the offensive end,” Buntin said.
The Cardinals showed some offensive push to start the second half with six unanswered points from Halle Ryan, Megan Turner and Battenfield to close within 27-24.
But when the Mustangs’ Kiah Purdunn, who matched Battenfield for game-high scoring honors with 14 points, rattled home a 3-pointer with 7:24 to play, Oologah was back on top 37-25.
From there, Battenfield made a layup to ignite an 8-0 run that ended with her 10-foot bank shot from the left side to bring Verdigris to within 37-33 with 3:10 remaining. The basket put her over the 1,000-point mark.
“Anytime you can do that it is something, particularly with it coming on your home floor and with her sister being here,” Buntin said.
“The only thing missing is that you want a win.”
The Cardinals would close its deficit to a single point, 44-43, on a basket by Kayla Darden with 4 seconds remaining but an Oologah free throw provided the final margin.
Oologah 57, Verdigris 50 (boys): After enjoying as much as a 15-point first-half lead, the Cardinals (8-12) took a seemingly comfortable 30-19 cushion to the locker room at halftime.
But things began to unravel, when the Mustangs (9-11) opened the second half with a trio of 3-pointers. Oologah’s fourth trey of the quarter brought the Mustangs to within 38-37 in the final minute of the period.
But after Verdigris built its lead back to 47-41 on a layup by Trent Haddock with 4:31 to go in the game, the Cardinals would not score again from the field until the game’s final seconds.
Meanwhile, Oologah—buoyed by 13 points by Konnor Davis who paced all scorers with 26—tallied 16 unanswered points to surge ahead 57-47 in the game’s final minute.
“They just wanted it more than us. That’s what it boils down to,” Cardinals Head Coach Chris Houk said of his team’s play in the second half.
Rebounding stats help tell the story. While Verdigris held a 20-16 edge on the boards in the first half, Oologah crashed the boards during its comeback and ended the game with a 40-37 advantage on the glass.
Oologah also scored 21 of its 38 second-half points from beyond the arc going 7-of-14 after intermission from three-point range.
“That’s what happens when shots start falling in. It can change the momentum of a game,” Houk said.
For Verdigris, Brock Fugate just missed out on a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. Tyler Haddock added 14 points and eight boards. Jaren Keith chipped in seven rebounds and Michael Anderson notched six.