BIXBY — The Verdigris Cardinals survived to play another day with a 56-37 area tournament victory over Kellyville on Thursday afternoon in Whitey Ford Fieldhouse.
With the win, Verdigris will now face Victory Christian at 3 p.m. this afternoon in Bixby. The Cardinals can reach next week’s state tournament in Oklahoma City with a win today and another on Saturday evening.
Verdigris raced to a dominant 11-0 advantage after one quarter and led 19-10 at the half.
Kellyville mounted a third quarter run and pulled within 26-20 on John Buckley’s traditional 3-point play with 1:26 remaining in the quarter. It was as close as the Ponies would ever get.
The Cardinals (23-4) didn’t flinch and closed the quarter with a traditional 3-point play of their own from Jared Whitmire and a driving layup in traffic by Brian Phillips as time expired to put Verdigris ahead 31-20.
Hoping to somehow stay in the contest, the Ponies were forced to foul in the fourth quarter. Their only hope, Verdigris misses from the charity stripe turned into quick Kellyville baskets.
That strategic move failed as the rock-solid Cardinals converted 16-of-18 free throw attempts over the game’s final four minutes to finish off the 56-37 victory.
Austin Monroe scored a game-high 17-points to pace the Verdigris attack while Whitmire and Jake Culver added 14 and 11 points, respectfully. Chance Roth led Kellyville with 11 points followed by a 10 point effort from Buckley.
In the girls game, the Lady Cardinals kept alive their dream of a gold ball with a thrilling 52-42 area tournament victory over Cascia Hall Thursday evening in Whitey Ford Fieldhouse.
Next challenge for the 21-7 Lady Cardinals is a battle with Morris this afternoon in Bixby.
Mallary Schaub tallied 16 points for Verdigris.