The Verdigris Lady Cardinals thrive on playing tenacious defense.
With a suffocating, full-court press, led by junior point guard Baileigh O’Dell and senior forward Stacia Payne, the Lady Cardinals played keep away while soaring to a 62-37 win over the Pryor Lady Tigers in the opening round of the Jerry Oquin Classic in Inola.
Pryor committed 20-plus turnovers, which led to easy transition layups for O’Dell, Payne and the Lady Cardinals.
After a sluggish first quarter that saw Verdigris cling to a 14-5 lead, the Lady Cardinals rode the hot shooting of O’Dell and Payne and in the final eight minutes of the first half to go up 28-14 at halftime.
O’Dell and Payne combined for 21 of the 28 points on six field goals and 1-of-3 free throws. O’Dell had 12 of her game-high 23 points in the first 16 minutes.
Verdigris held Pryor to two field goals in the first quarter and six in the first half. Tara Shelby led the Lady Tigers’ offense with four points, while Courtney Miller and Lindsey Taylor added three each in the first half.
Coming out in the third quarter, the Lady Cardinals got off to a fast-start with back-to-back driving layups by O’Dell to extend their lead to 36-20.
Verdigris continued its scoring spree, going on a 12-0 run with eight straight points on transition layups by Payne.
Courtney Risenhoover also contributed with a pair of baskets in the paint for four of her 13 points.
Taylor’s three-pointer with 1:50 left in the third quarter capped off Verdigris’s scoring run and cut the deficit to 50-25.
Hannah Harrison closed out the third quarter scoring with an offensive putback as Pryor trailed 50-27 going into the fourth quarter.
Along with O’Dell, Payne also tossed in 19 points for the Lady Cardinals.
Pryor was led in scoring by Taylor with 10 points. Kelsie Kerns and Jaclyn True also contributed with 5 points each.
The Lady Cardinals (4-0) will return to action at 7 p.m. on Thursday against the winner of Tahlequah Sequoyah and Inola.