The first-round matchup between Class 3A Verdigris and Class 5A Pryor literally went right down to the wire Wednesday night in the Jerry Oquin Tournament.
Verdigris used a 24-point performance by Cade Upshaw to advance to the semifinals with a 75-68 win over Pryor.
After scoring 12 points in the first half, Upshaw tallied 10 points in the fourth quarter to lead Verdigris into the tournament’s ‘Final Four’.
Verdigris converted 11-of-12 free throws in the final eight minutes and got a huge three-pointer from Upshaw with 3:11 left in the game to extend its lead to 67-61.
Ryan Ogg’s offensive putback with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter pulled Pryor within four points at 67-63. That would, however, be as close as the Tigers would get the rest of the way.
Both teams battled neck-and-neck from the opening tip. Verdigris’ largest lead came with 31 seconds remaining in the game on Upshaw’s free throw conversions that put the Cardinals up 73-63.
Verdigris opened the game on a 7-1 run before Pryor started chipping away.
Robert Ross tallied a team-high 21 points and freshman point guard Tyler Arnold added 13 to spark the Pryor rally.
A three-pointer by Arnold and then back-to-back steals and layups from the Pryor freshman guard narrowed the margin to 27-24 in favor of Verdigris with 6:42 left in the first half. Arnold’s second three-pointer of the second quarter once again helped Pryor trim the Verdigris lead to 33-31 with 3:57 remaining.
An offensive putback by Ross and Ogg’s basket in the paint sent Pryor into the locker room with a 37-35 lead.
Pryor opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run that extended from the second quarter and took a 44-39 lead before a basket inside by Verdigris post Caleb Jones.
Jones continued to make his presence known inside with a basket off the glass. Brewster Peacock’s three-pointer with 34 seconds put Verdigris up 51-50.
Along with Upshaw, Laef Payne scored 17 points and Jones added 14 for Verdigris.