SKIATOOK, Okla. - As expected, the record fell on Friday night.
University of Arkansas basketball signee Rotnei Clarke had 37 points Friday night in No. 1 Verdigris' 70-51 win over No. 2 Adair in the Class 3A Area final to become the state of Oklahoma's career-leading scorer.
Clarke (6-1, 180), who broke the record before a capacity crowd of 6,000 fans at Skiatook's Dr. Gary Johnson Activity Center, now has 3,643 points, a total that surpasses Ty Harmam's 3,639 back in 1989.
"I take it as a blessing that I was able to get this out of the way, but most importantly that we won the ballgame and we can go into the state tournament without having to worry about it and try to win that gold ball," Clarke said. "The team is happy it is over with, too, but this is just as much their record as mine. I could not have done it without them."
Clarke tied the mark on a jumper in the lane with just over 4 minutes left and then set the new mark with the first of two free throws with 3:14 left in the game - and at 9:11 p.m..
"That record thing has been a distraction and now that dang thing is out of the way," noted Verdigris head coach Kelly Clarke, Rotnei's uncle. "I am pleased about that. He's earn it, but he has done it while making us a better all-around team. I couldn't be prouder of him."
Averaging 41.5 points per game, Clarke was 13-of-26 from the field, 2-of-5 from 3-point range and 9-of-9 from the free throw line on the night.
The Verdigris crowd started counting down the points late in the first half - when he had 23 - and the crowd first erupted and then gave him a standing ovation when he broke the mark.
Clarke had averaged 53.7 points in his first three postseason games.
"The first time I noticed it was in the second half when they started getting really loud," Clarke said. "I had been too focused on the game to really notice what they were saying."
Verdigris center Adam Hollon added a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Cole Overhaul hit four 3-pointers for his 12 points.
Verdigris (24-3) now moves on the Class 3A state tournament next week in Oklahoma City, while Adair must win a game Saturday night to earn a berth.
"At first we were not really clicking together and hadn't really found our niches," Clarke said. "Now we have gone on a big winning streak and everybody is getting involved."
o o o
Cassie Clarke, Rotnei's sister who is a standout junior being recruited by the Lady Razorbacks, had all 13 of her points in the second half to lead her team to a win earlier Friday.
Clarke, averaging 23 points per game, hit a deep 3-pointer to send the game into overtime and Verdigris went on to a 54-48 victory.
The Verdigris girls can claim a state title berth with a win over Eufala on Saturday.
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Oklahoma State signee and Pawnee star Keiton Page had 54 points on Friday night as he moved into third on the all-time scoring list.
He now has 3,571 points - 72 behind Clarke
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