ADA — The Okarche Lady Warriors did a good job of holding Verdigris star Cassie Clarke in check for three quarters.

In fact, Clarke managed just one point in the third quarter as Okarche build at 34-30 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

But Clarke single-handedly outscored Okarche 10-2 during a game-changing run early in the fourth quarter and finished with 30 points to lead the Lady Cardinals to a 55-47 come-from-behind win in the first round of the 31st annual Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic Thursday afternoon.

“She’s capable of that. She’s a great player,” Verdigris head coach Gary Kennemer said of Clarke’s late heroics.

Verdigris — ranked No. 11 in the latest Class 3A poll despite a sub-.500 record — improved to 4-4 on the year while Okarche (No. 8 in Class A) fell to 8-2.

“It’s awesome. It’s a dream to come play in this tournament. To actually win a ballgame in this thing is big, especially against a team like Okarche because they’re a good ballclub. But we still have two tough games ahead,” Kennemer said.

Verdigris meets Preston (No. 1 in Class A) in a semifinal showdown tonight at 8 p.m., while Okarche battles Kiowa in a 4:30 p.m. consolation contest.

With Okarche leading 37-36 after a 3-pointer by Katie Beebe, Clarke answered with a runner inside the paint. Then, after an Okarche miss, Clarke grabbed the rebound, beat the Lady Warriors down the court for a layup, was fouled and converted the 3-point play.

After two missed free throws by Okarche’s Jillian Reeves, Clarke completed another three-point play, and her two charity makes with 2:50 left in the game gave the Lady Cardinals a 46-39 advantage. Clarke would end up scoring 17 points in the fourth period.

Despite Verdigris missing six of seven free throw attempts in the closing minutes, Okarche never got closer than four the rest of the way.

“At the time it was a real big concern,” Kennemer said of the late free throw blunders. “You keep looking up there and it was only six points and that’s just two quick possessions and a couple of threes for them because they shoot it so well.”

Okarche’s biggest lead was 23-18 after Brittany Pfaff banked in one of her three 3-pointers at the 1:31 mark of the second quarter. But the Lady Cardinals were able to stay close despite being outscored 22-16 over the middle two frames. 

“We struggled a little bit offensively, trying to get in the flow of things,” Kennemer said. “But as the game progressed, we did a better job of staying patient and not rushing things like we did in the past to hurt ourselves.”

Clarke hit 12-of-13 free throws in the game and also grabbed seven rebounds.

Meg Heskett also reached double figures for Verdigris with 11 points while Julia Mitchell yanked down a game-high nine rebounds.

Beebe led the Lady Warriors with 16 points while Pfaff just missed double digits with nine.

Verdigris started the game with a 10-2 surge but Okarche countered with a 10-2 run of its own to knot the score at 12-12.

The Lady Warriors went 7-of-16 from three-point territory but were outscored 17-6 from the free throw line.

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