Both Sequoyah basketball teams are ranked fifth in Class 3A. Both Verdigris teams are fourth in 3A.
The two schools will clash at 6:30 and 8 tonight at Checotah High School with state tournament berths at stake.
On paper, both matchups appear to be close to even. So, with that said, here are some things to watch for tonight:
- In the boys game, Sequoyah's Caisen Green and Verdigris' Cade Upshaw figure to be the focal points of both offenses. Both will score their fair share of points. The deciding factor could be whose supporting cast provides the most secondary punch. For Sequoyah, solid games from B.J. Leach, Elijah Tucker, Nick Kingfisher and Kyle Sanders could put the Indians over the top. Same goes for Verdigris with Laef Payne, Caleb Jones and Brewster Peacock.
- Both boys teams have coasted, for the most part, in the playoffs so far. How will each team react when the other puts together a prolonged run and claims the momentum? The team that handles that adversity the best likely wins.
- Sequoyah boys coach Jay Herrin compared Verdigris to a team that his club had already played this season. That team was Fort Gibson. The Indians lost 75-71 to the Tigers at the Inola tournament. Don't be surprised if the final score between Sequoyah and Verdigris is somewhere in that 70-point neighborhood.
- In the girls game, contrasting styles will be on display. Sequoyah figures to play a halfcourt game while mixing in some half-court traps on defense. Verdigris will try to speed things up and force some Sequoyah mistakes in the backcourt. Whichever team can execute its game plan the best will have the upper hand in the end.
- Verdigris' Baileigh O'Dell, a Lamar signee, will be the best player on the floor in the girls game. What Sequoyah will have to have is three to four of the next best players. If Loren Young, Jhonett Cookson, Kelsey Leach and Cenia Hayes are better than Courtney Risenhoover and Caitlyn Hanslovan then Sequoyah might avoid the area consolation championship game this season.
Girls: Sequoyah 55, Verdigris 53
Boys: Verdigris 80, Sequoyah 79
(Both games figured to hinge on a couple of key plays. The teams that make those plays will move on to the 3A state tournament.)