The Tahlequah Sequoyah Indians pulled the upset Friday night and punched their ticket to the Class 3A State Tournament.
Behind Caisen Green’s game-high 26 points and B.J. Leach’s 16 points, the Indians roared past No. 4 Verdigris, 64-55 in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
With the loss, the Cardinals (23-4) faced Antlers Saturday night in a must-win game to advance to the state tournament.
Tahlequah Sequoyah improved to 23-3 and moved on to the state tournament for the second straight season.
Green stole the spotlight from the opening tip, scoring 15 of Tahlequah Sequoyah’s 31 points in the first half.
Both teams battled back-and-forth and Laef Payne’s penetrating layups in transition helped put Verdigris up 17-15 after the first quarter.
Tahlequah Sequoyah’s defensive pressure — especially on junior guard Cade Upshaw — held the Verdigris leading scorer without a field goal until his 3-pointer found the bottom of the net with 0:03 left in the first half.
With Upshaw’s inability to score, Caleb Jones, Payne and Tyler Monroe picked up the pace to combine for 22 of the Cardinals’ 31 points in the first 16 minutes.
The 6-foot-4 Jones led Verdigris with 11 points at halftime.
Tahlequah Sequoyah started to steal the momentum with Leach’s layup at the 6:06 mark in the third quarrter giving the Indians a 37-36 lead.
A 3-pointer by Green with 0:11 remaining in the third quarter increased the Indians lead to 47-46.
Green continued to pace the Indians with six points in the fourth quarter — including a transitional layup with 2:40 remaining that increased Tahlequah Sequoyah’s lead to 61-52.
Along with Green and Leach, Zach Parish had nine points for Tahlequah Sequoyah.
Jones led Verdigris with 18 points, followed by Monroe with 12 and Upshaw with 10. Brewster Peacock added eight and Payne finished with seven.