Blake Battenfield’s second-half dominance played an integral role in advancing the Verdigris Cardinals to the finals of the Jerry Oquin Tournament.
Battenfield scored 16 of his 20 points in the final 16 minutes of action as Verdigris held off Pryor, 69-66 Thursday night in the semifinals.
After both teams battled back-and-forth and went into halftime tied at 34, Battenfield’s presence inside took over in the third quarter.
Pryor led 39-34 early on, before Battenfield started heating up with 6:52 left in the third quarter.
A layup and three-pointer by Battenfield narrowed Pryor’s lead to 43-39 with 5:20 remaining.
Then, with 2:50 in the third quarter, Battenfield’s driving layup and free throw conversion cut the deficit to 48-44.
Leonard Brockup’s three pointer got Verdigris within a point at 48-47 and Cade Upshaw’s trey tied the game at 50 going into the fourth quarter.
Battenfield put Verdigris ahead 51-50 on a free throw conversion early in the fourth quarter.
Shortly thereafter, Battenfield reeled off five straight points to increase the Cardinals lead to 56-53 with 5:19 left in the game.
Daniel Frailey’s offensive putback and Robert Ross’s free throw tied the game at 56.
Both teams traded three-pointers with Tyler Monroe’s giving the Cardinals a 59-56 lead with 3:49 remaining.
Chase Bryant hit his first of two clutch treys in the fourth quarter with 2:32 remaining to put the Cardinals ahead 62-59.
After Frailey’s layup got Pryor within a point — 62-61 — Bryant answered long distance to give the Cardinals a 65-61 lead with 1:53 left.
Tyler Hundley chipped in a pair of free throws with 0:51 remaining to extend the Cardinals lead to 67-63.
On the ensuing possession, Frailey drained a three pointer from the top of the key to cut the deficit to 67-66.
One play later, Upshaw knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the win.
Along with Battenfield, Upshaw, Brad Combs and Bryant tallied 11 points each.
Combs scored all 11 of his points in the first half.
Frailey led Pryor with 19 points.