OKLAHOMA CITY — The script was virtually the same. The venue, the start time, the opponent — all were close to mirror images of 2013.
However, this year’s matchup between No. 5 Sequoyah and top-ranked Okemah wasn’t a blowout with the game already in hand before the fourth quarter ever started.
But outcome was still a tough pill to swallow for the Indians, who were after their first state championship game since 2008.
Okemah’s John Wingfield scored 13 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter as the top-ranked Panthers used a 16-2 run to gut out a 59-54 win in the 3A state semifinals at the State Fair Arena Friday.
The Indians (24-4) led for most of the contest and had their biggest advantage at 49-41 early in the fourth quarter. But Wingfield scored on three consecutive possessions, pushing the Panthers into the lead with a three with 2:55 to play.
“We played well and built a nice lead and played good defense,” Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin said. “We got some shots in the fourth quarter that didn’t fall. They hit some tough shots.”
Wingfield led the Panthers (28-1) by going 11 of 18 from the floor.
“The Wingfield kid really hurt us,” Herrin said. “They’re role guys hurt us in the fourth quarter.”
The final period is where it all fell apart for the Indians.
Sequoyah logged only seven points in the fourth quarter while going three-of-12 from the field. The Indians also threw up three 3-point attempts without converting on any of them.
The Indians could manage just one bucket during that stretch, going almost four minutes without scoring before Caisen Green converted on a three-point play with 25 seconds left to cut Okemah’s lead to 57-54.
Caisen Green scored only three of 10 points in the final eight minutes. The senior guard was one-of-three from the field with a turnover and one rebound to close out the contest.
“We ran plays for him,” Herrin said of Green, who finished four-of-10 from the field. “They had some good defenders and they took him out of the game.”
Trailing by three (57-54) with 19 seconds left, Okemah’s Austin Guinn missed a free throw to try and extend the Panthers’ lead. Sequoyah grabbed the rebound, but B.J. Leach turned the ball over when Gus Klutts came up with a game-deciding steal.
Klutts went on to make two free throws with six seconds left, and the Panthers celebrated a return trip to the finals, where they’ll take on either Centennial or Verdigris on Saturday at 12:15.
The Indians took the lead late in the first quarter, going on an 11-0 run that gave them a 19-12 advantage early in the second period. Okemah would briefly retake the lead when a three by Ben Custar made it 20-19 with six minutes left in the half.
Sequoyah countered to take a four-point lead into halftime, led by 10 points from Elijah Tucker and seven apiece from Green and B.J. Leach.
Wingfield was held to six points in the first half, but doubled his total in the third quarter, keeping the Panthers within striking distance before dominating the final seven minutes of the game.
Leach led Sequoyah with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Tucker finished with 10 apiece.
“I told the guys that I’m really proud of them,” Herrin said of his postgame speech. “We have nothing to hang our heads about. We had some missed execution, but overall I was pleased.”
Okemah 59, Sequoyah 54
Seq 17 16 14 7 - 54
Oke 12 17 12 18 - 59
Sequoyah (24-4): B.J. Leach 11, Caisen Green 10, Elijah Tucker 10, Parish 8, Sanders 6, Johnston 5, Kingfisher 4.
Okemah (28-1): John Wingfield 25, Gus Klutts 10, Titsworth 7, Guinn 6, Dunson 4, Webb 4, Custar 3.