Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
Upshaw’s clutch shooting — especially from the perimeter — steered the Cardinals back to the Class 3A State Tournament for the second-straight season under veteran head coach Randy Upshaw.
With the win over Antlers, the Cardinals open the 3A State Quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday against Spiro at Carl Albert High School.
Spiro advanced to the state tournament with a 52-44 win over Nowata.
The No. 4 Cardinals (24-4) jumped out to a 19-11 lead in the first quarter behind Upshaw and 6-foot-4 senior post Caleb Jones.
Jones, who presents a towering presence in the paint, also contributed with 20 points to lead the Cardinals.
Against Tahlequah Sequoyah, the Indians clamped down on Upshaw and held the sharp-shooting guard to 10 points.
Though, Upshaw couldn’t materialize any 3-pointers against the Indians, he did find his shooter’s touch in the must-win game against Antlers.
Upshaw made 5 treys against Antlers, and Verdigris carried a 36-21 lead into halftime.
Freshman forward Brewster Peacock also scored in double figures for Verdigris with 12 points.
After halftime, the Cardinals poured it on and outscored Antlers, 36-21.
Laef Payne joined in the Cardinals’ scoring with nine points, followed by Tyler Monroe with five.
Dayton Wickman, Clint Davidson and Paul Hollon also finished with two points each.