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Verdigris basketball teams face challenges as Mother Road Classic commences

Jan. 6—VERDIGRIS — The start of the New Year brought a challenging stretch for the Verdigris basketball teams.

The struggles commenced on Tuesday night at the Verdigris Activity Center when the Cardinals faced off against Rogers County rival Inola. The Lady Cardinals, ranked eighth, suffered a narrow 41-38 loss to the No. 13 Lady Longhorns, marking their third-consecutive defeat against Inola.

Following suit, the Inola boys secured a commanding 75-39 victory, adding to Verdigris' early-year challenges.

The woes continued on Thursday as Verdigris hosted the Mother Road Classic.

The Lady Cardinals faced a formidable opponent in Class 5A's Coweta, experiencing a decisive 46-29 defeat and ending their bid for a second-consecutive appearance in the championship game. Meanwhile, the Verdigris boys had a contrasting performance against Coweta, leading for most of the game until a buzzer-beating three-point play in the third quarter shifted the momentum, leading to a 68-59 loss.

Friday brought a glimmer of hope for the Lady Cardinals in the consolation bracket, for they returned to their winning form with a convincing 56-37 victory over Kiefer. This marked a positive turn for the team, especially after having already defeated the Lady Trojans by 30 just a week ago in the Tournament of Champions.

On the other hand, the struggles persisted for the Verdigris boys as they faced Mannford in the consolation semifinals, extending their losing streak to nine games with a 58-46 defeat.

The Cardinals are currently experiencing a challenging period, losing by an average of 16.1 points per game during this slide.

Looking ahead, the Lady Cardinals will strive for redemption in the consolation championship against Purcell at noon on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Verdigris boys aim to break their losing streak as they take on Tecumseh in the seventh-place game at 10:30 a.m. in a determined effort to turn the tide in their favor.

GIRLS — VERDIGRIS 56, KIEFER 37

The Lady Cardinals, determined to reverse their recent struggles, unleashed a potent offensive display that left their opponents unable to recover.

Wiginton, fueled by a desire for change, set the tone early in the game by draining four 3-pointers in a dynamic first quarter. Verdigris swiftly built a double-digit lead and maintained its dominance throughout the matchup.

Despite a quieter second quarter with only two points and no points in the third, Wiginton reemerged in the fourth quarter with a spectacular display, contributing another 14 points on six made field goals.

Finishing with an impressive 28 points, Wiginton showcased her scoring prowess with five of the team's eight 3-pointers. Maddy Daniels complemented the offensive surge with three 3-pointers of her own, finishing the game with 11 points.

The duo of Wiginton and Daniels emerged as the primary scorers for Verdigris, with Jackie Beauchamp adding five points to the team's well-rounded offensive effort.

Kiefer staged a rally in the third quarter, narrowing the gap after trailing 26-12 at halftime, thanks to the efforts of Coley Rowton.

Rowton contributed eight of her 21 points during the third, leading the Lady Trojans to their best frame of the game as they outscored Verdigris 14-9. However, despite the spirited effort from Rowton and her teammates, they couldn't match the scoring output of Wiginton and Daniels.

The Lady Cardinals' dynamic duo, combined to score 19 of the team's 21 fourth-quarter points, sealing a decisive victory and showcasing their ability to respond when challenged.

GIRLS — COWETA 46, VERDIGRIS 29

Despite the anticipation of a potential comeback, the Lady Cardinals were unable to overturn Coweta's early lead, with the Lady Tigers showcasing a dynamic team effort that proved insurmountable.

Coweta demonstrated its offensive prowess with a well-distributed scoring attack, featuring five players contributing seven points or more. Emersyn Eischen led the charge with 10 points and nine rebounds, setting the tone for the team's dominance.

Macee Matthews followed closely with nine points and two rebounds, while Tayen Allen and Jaycee Meissinger added eight points each, complemented by two boards apiece. Gia Dennis rounded out the balanced offensive display with seven points and three rebounds.

Despite a resilient effort from Verdigris, Coweta's persistent lead-building efforts were challenging to overcome.

Although the Lady Cardinals struggled to find their shooting rhythm, they managed to pull within six at 29-26 early in the fourth quarter after a layup from Beauchamp. However, the Lady Tigers responded with an 8-0 run, including a flawless 6-for-6 stretch at the free-throw line, effectively sealing the game.

Matthews played a crucial role in this stretch, making four of the free throws.

Wiginton, leading Verdigris with 15 points and three rebounds, made a late 3-pointer to briefly interrupt Coweta's run, but it proved insufficient to mount a comeback. The Lady Tigers closed the game with a 9-3 run, extinguishing any hope of a Lady Cardinals resurgence.

Brynlee Brown and Grace Waters showcased their efforts on the glass, leading Verdigris with four rebounds each. However, Coweta asserted its dominance in rebounding as well, outclassing the Lady Cardinals with a 24-17 advantage on the boards.

BOYS — MANNFORD 58, VERDIGRIS 46

The first half painted a promising picture for Verdigris as it led 24-19 at halftime, showcasing a sturdy defense that held the Pirates to just six points in the second quarter.

However, the dynamics shifted dramatically in the third quarter, leading to the Cardinals' eventual defeat.

Verdigris struggled offensively in the third period, facing a relentless Mannford team that seemingly scored at will. The Pirates outgunned the Cardinals 20-5 in the third quarter, and Kaleb Kindley played a pivotal role, contributing nine of his 21 points during this dominant stretch.

Entering the fourth quarter at a double-digit deficit, Verdigris faced an uphill battle and struggled to mount a substantial rally. Spencer Norman furthered Mannford's lead with eight of his 14 points in the final quarter, and Taven Fertriss finished with 13 points, securing the victory for the Pirates.

Cooper Coons led the scoring efforts for Verdigris, contributing 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Tyler Willis also reached double figures with 10 points, displaying offensive resilience in a challenging contest.

Notable performances from Dax Hamilton, Austin Boren and Ian Meador underscored the Cardinals' collective effort, though they fell short against a determined Mannford squad.

BOYS — COWETA 68, VERDIGRIS 59

The Cardinals exhibited resilience, but cracks in their advantage emerged early in the third quarter, leading to a spirited comeback from the Tigers.

Verdigris started strong, scoring the first eight points and riding that early momentum to a 29-23 halftime lead. However, Coweta staged a formidable rally in the second half, opening the third period with a 6-0 run and swiftly tying the score at 29.

Willis managed to put Verdigris back in the lead with a pair of free throws, but a pivotal 3-pointer from Connor Jensen gave the Tigers their first lead at 32-31 at the 5:40 mark. The Cardinals, showcasing their ability to respond, regained the lead with Willis and Maddox Mason scoring the next four points.

Despite Coweta taking the lead again, Verdigris answered once more. However, a three-point play at the buzzer by Cade Ellison gave the Tigers a 44-42 lead, sparking a critical 9-0 run that proved decisive in the outcome.

Caden Garrett's increased involvement for Coweta in the third quarter played a significant role in the Tigers' rally.

After scoring only one point in the first half, Garrett exploded for eight points in the third quarter and added another six in the fourth, finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Talon Vaughn led Coweta with 18 points, including four crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Ellison finished with 14 points, adding to the Tigers' balanced offensive effort.

Despite the loss, Verdigris showcased its high scorers, with Mason leading the team with 17 points and two rebounds. Willis added 15 points and four boards, while Coons notched 14 points and four rebounds.