Taylor Beck stepped up when the Verdigris Lady Cardinals needed her most Thursday night in the Jerry Oquin Tournament semifinals.
With sophomore post Courtney Risenhoover in foul trouble early in the first half, Verdigris head coach Mike Buntin called upon the 5-foot-5 Beck to play inside and control the paint.
The move paid off as Beck scored six of her seven points in the second quarter to help spark the Lady Cardinals into the championship.
The Lady Cardinals remained perfect on the season following their 61-37 win over Tahlequah Sequoyah.
After opening with a 9-5 lead in the first quarter, Verdigris exploded for 18 points — six each by Beck and junior point guard Baileigh O’Dell — in the second quarter to carry a 27-16 margin into halftime.
Beck’s baseline jumper following Stacia Payne’s steal put the Lady Cardinals ahead 16-9 with 5:30 remaining in the first half.
Then, with 3:59 remaining, Beck muscled her way inside for an offensive putback that increased the Lady Cardinals’ lead to 18-9.
A three-pointer by junior guard Caitlyn Hanslovan put the Lady Cardinals ahead 23-13 with 2:42 remaining.
Beck continued to shine in the second quarter with another 7-foot jumper as the Lady Cardinals carried a 13-point lead into the locker room.
The Lady Cardinals (5-0) found success on the perimeter in the early stages of the third quarter as O’Dell and Hanslovan buried a pair of treys to increase the margin to 35-23.
Risenhoover’s first field goal with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter put the Lady Cardinals up 39-23.
Tahlequah Sequoyah continued to chip away at the Lady Cardinals’ lead with Courtney Jones knocking down three treys to close out the third quarter.
O’Dell scored seven of the Lady Cardinals’ 19 third quarter points and kept Verdigris out front with a 46-31 lead.
Verdigris converted two field goals and were 11-of-20 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
O’Dell tallied a game-high 20 points and Payne added 17 to lead the Lady Cardinals’ offense.
Hanslovan and Beck also contributed with seven points apiece, while Shelby Anderson and Risenhoover added four each. Camry Collins rounded out the scoring with two points.
Verdigris faced Fort Gibson Saturday night in the championship game.