In a big Class 3A gun down, No. 3 Verdigris had more weapons than No. 6 Sperry.
In their home opener, the 2-0 Cardinals buried eight three-point shots and converted 21-of-23 free throws in rolling past the Pirates 69-54.
Four starters scored in double figures for coach Randy Upshaw’s team, including his son Cade with 20, Laef Payne 19, Caleb Jones 15 and Tyler Monroe 13.
“We’re pretty balanced,’’ said coach Upshaw. “We take a lot of threes, but we start inside and if they don’t respect us, we can go outside. We’ve got a lot of good shooters this year and over the long haul, we need those guys.’’
The Cardinals had a dickens of a time pulling away from 1-1 Sperry. An early back court press built a 9-2 lead, then the Pirates ran off nine straight points to lead. Upshaw’s drive to the hoop put Verdigris up 22-18 and the lead was two after one period.
“We use our press depending on who we play and we’re a pretty good pressing team’’ said coach Upshaw. “What was frustrating was we did things out of the ordinary, missing layups and threes and giving up second shots.
“We have only lost one game at home in four years and that was to Sperry last year. We beat a good team and we played pretty well down the stretch with the game on the line.’’
The game was a three-point shooting duel most of the first half and Sperry took its last lead at 23-22 when Logan Mullins canned a trey just 31 seconds into the second quarter. Monroe answered for the Cardinals with a trey at 6:07 and the home team enjoyed a 33-29 intermission advantage.
Sperry’s 6-7 Casey Cole scored 16 points and Peyton Pratt added 13. Cole nailed a turnaround baseline 10-footer to produce a 33-all tie prior to Jones’ three ball from the top of the key giving the Cards a permanent lead.
The Pirates seemed to wilt in the final period due to Verdigris’ 13-of-13 foul shooting. The backbreaker came for Sperry when Monroe scored on a drive and drew Cole’s fifth foul. Monroe’s free throw put the Cards ahead 59-48 with 3:35 left.