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BOYS BASKETBALL: Free-throw shooting gives Verdigris edge over Adair

Jan.

20–VERDIGRIS — Brant Teague has done a lot of scoring from beyond the arc during his recent resurgence. However, it was his ability to hit a different kind of shot that helped Verdigris ultimately overcome Adair for a 79-71 victory Tuesday night at the Verdigris Activity Center. As part of a 15-9 run that clinched the win, the junior went 4-of-4 at the free-throw line in the final minutes.

He finished with a game-high 22 points and five rebounds, sinking six 3-pointers for a third-consecutive game. Not bad for a player only 12 games into his varsity career, though Verdigris coach Chris Houk said such a performance should be expected. “If he’s able to hit those 3s, he should be able to hit a 15-footer unguarded,” Houk said. “I don’t think that should be a surprise, but it was there late at the end in a position he’s never been in.

This is his first time ever being in that position, but like I said, his confidence ever since he had that 1-of-7 game has really turned around. It’s good to see.” Teague wasn’t the only one getting to the line, though.

In fact, the game turned into somewhat of a free-throw shooting bargain sale. The teams combined for an unprecedented 64 free throws, with the Cardinals hitting 24 of their 38 attempts (63.2%). Adair went 15-of-26 (57.7%).

Aaron Buntin had success at the line as well for Verdigris, making 7 of 8 in the fourth quarter, including the team’s final three. That efficiency made him the fourth Cardinal to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points and three rebounds. Lucas Lechlider — who tallied 13 points and three rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble most of the second half — and Tyler Willis (10 points, two rebounds) were the other two.

Braxton Repschlaeger came close to reaching double digits, netting nine points alongside four rebounds. He struggled at the free-throw line early on but improved to hit his final four attempts. “What we have preached since the day I got here is we should be at the foul line,” Houk said. “Not that many times, but we should be getting to the foul line a lot more — at least 20 times a game just because of how our guards are.

They can draw fouls more than they have been, and they proved that tonight, for sure.”
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Verdigris (10-2) led by as many as 11 in the third period and had a 10-point advantage early in the fourth after a Teague 3-ball, but the Warriors rallied to within two at 64-62 midway through the frame.

However, the Cardinals answered with nine-consecutive points via free throws from Teague, Buntin and Isiak Layton — who led the team in rebounds with six — and 2-point field goals from Willis and Jonah Scott. Adair (5-9) responded with three 3-pointers in the waning moments, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the sheer amount of Verdigris free throws. The Warriors made 12 3-balls in all.

Adair managed four double-digit scorers as well, led by Ty Duncan with 17 points and seven rebounds. Zac Rains netted 16 points and two boards while Reece Jackson and Nate Ratcliff registered 15 points apiece with eight and seven rebounds, respectively. “I’m proud of them gutting it out,” Houk said. “It was a gut check.

We won 23-22 in the fourth quarter. It’s always a dogfight with them — always. They never give up, and we know that.”

The Cardinals play Cascia Hall at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday in the Chouteau Invitational.