Byford, a 6-foot-7 senior who has signed with Oral Roberts, had 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocked shots, but a late 3-pointer by Merritt's Branson Daugherty — his seventh of the day — put the Oilers on top en route to a 52-50 victory in the first round of the Class A boys state basketball tournament at State Fair Arena.
Midway through the third quarter, Byford still had more points than Merritt's whole team, but the Oilers were able to better execute the game plan for slowing down the versatile Byford.
With his ability to play strong inside and handle the ball on the perimeter, Byford presented a difficult matchup for Merritt, without a player taller than 6-foot-3.
“In the first half, we let Byford have the ball too much,” Daugherty said. “We needed to get the ball out of his hands, and in the second half, we did a much better job.”
Merritt rallied from 12 points down, thanks to Daugherty scoring 15 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Oilers ruined Velma-Alma's perfect season.