By NICK HAMPTON
MUSKOGEE — This time it wasn’t close.
Using a big third quarter surge, the Sequoyah Indians blew past the McAlester Buffaloes 65-43 in the opening round of the Bedouin Shrine Tournament at the Muskogee Civic Center Tuesday night. The Indians had defeated the Buffs in a double-overtime contest just before the holiday break.
In their defense, McAlester played without point guard Jalen Erving, who scored 30 points in the first meeting between the two teams. But despite that, Indians coach Jay Herrin was pleased with the victory.
“I think it took us a while to realize they were short some players and we played a little tentative in the first half,” said Herrin. “The second half we played smarter and defended better and took better shots.”
With the Indians on top 20-16 at the half, Class 3A’s fifth-ranked Indians outscored the Buffaloes 21-10 to open a 15-point margin, 41-26, after three quarters. The Indians were paced in the quarter by Caisen Green, who scored eight of his team-high 16 points.
“I just moved around more tonight than last time and kept in motion instead of just standing around,” said the senior guard. “We just played better defense than last time. We knew who their shooters were this time and that helped us defend better.”
The game gave Sequoyah (7-1) an opportunity to test their man-to-man defense which, according to Herrin, they don’t use very often.
“We’re playing more man this year because we’re not as deep as we have been. We basically played man all night and pressed some to help open things up,” Herrin said. “I was really pleased with the kids being able to play a defense that we’re not used to playing.”
In addition to Green, Nick Kingfisher and Zach Parish posted double figures with each having 10 points for Sequoyah. For McAlester (4-4), Todd Dawkins had a game-high 23 points despite missing about half of the second quarter with an injury.
Sequoyah now moves to the tournament semifinals where they’ll face Jenks Friday night at 6 p.m. at the Muskogee Civic Center while McAlester falls into the consolation bracket, where they’ll take on Checotah at 6 p.m. at Muskogee High School.
Sequoyah (girls) 97, Cookson Hills 19
The best way to describe the start of the Sequoyah-Cookson Hills Small School Girls game of the 34th Bedouin Shrine Classic was the role players for the Lady Indians were going to get plenty of playing time.
With the shortest starter for the Lady Indians being two inches taller than the Lady Crusaders’ tallest starter, Sequoyah established its dominance inside early on en route to a 97-19 win at Ron Milam Gymnasium on Tuesday.
“I didn’t know what to expect tonight,” Sequoyah coach Larry Callison said. “You feel bad about leaving your starters in but they’ve got to play. So we decided we have 15 kids and we were going to go pretty equal with all of them.”
Six players for the Lady Indians ended the night in double figures — three starters and three subs. Audrey Ballou, Cenia Hayes and Jhonett Cookson led the starters with 14, 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Merissa Smith, Julia Spottedbird and Courtney Tiger paced the subs with 12, 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“I just wanted to score and prove to the coaches that I can score,” Smith said. “It felt really good to get out there and score. I didn’t know how much playing time I would get so I wanted to make the most of it.”
When the Lady Indians (7-1 and No. 5 in Class 3A) opened the game by scoring the first 27 points of the game, Callison called off the dogs with 2:19 left in the first quarter. It was one minute later when Madison Watts put Cookson on the board with a mid-range jumper, the only points the Lady Crusaders scored as Sequoyah led 31-2 after the first eight minutes.
The first round of subs stretched the lead to 45-6 midway through the second period, mostly on the strength of Smith’s three straight buckets on breakaway layups. The Lady Indians cooled off by only scoring two more points the remainder of the second quarter to take a 47-10 advantage at halftime.
“Coach told us to keep going hard and keep the mistakes down,” Tiger said. “Less mistakes meant more points.”
The third quarter began like the first with the starters on the floor as a group for the first 2:13 of the quarter before the musical chairs began. By that time, officials agree to have a running clock for the remainder of the contest as the Lady Indians led 74-12 after three quarters.
Sequoyah advances to play Haskell at 7:30 p.m. Friday at MHS while Cookson meets Summit Christian at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Civic Center.
“I really don’t know that much about Haskell, but you can’t take anybody lightly,” Callison said. “We did that at the Fort Gibson tournament, took somebody lightly that we shouldn’t have and we got beat.”
CNHI News Service's Ronn Rowland contributed to this report.