By BEN JOHNSON
It was a walk in the park for Sequoyah on Saturday afternoon at The Place Where They Play. It was a living nightmare for Keys.
Class 3A No. 14 Sequoyah faced little resistance in a wire-to-wire, 76-38, laugher that helped Sequoyah secure a season sweep over its Cherokee County rivals.
“My challenge to the girls was to step up and play four quarters of basketball,” Sequoyah coach Larry Shade said. “And we got to see four quarters of basketball.”
In front of a near-capacity crowd, Courtney Jones — who nearly outscored Keys on her own — scored 28 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field. Audrey Ballou chipped in with 22 points and six rebounds and Loren Young was just short of perfect from the field, going 4 of 6 and finishing with 11 points.
“When those three are clicking, we’ve got three on the floor that can score, and it’s hard for defenses to collapse or double team or try a box-and-one or a triangle-and-two,” Shade said. “That’s what we kind of look for sometimes, but nobody ever runs it. Somewhere, maybe down the line, someone is going to and we’ll be ready for it.”
Jones deferred credit to players such as Feather Pacheco, Kelsey Leach and Jakkie Wright for the trio’s success.
“If it wasn’t for other teammates,” Jones said, “we wouldn’t have scored that much.”
A night after hanging tough with 4A No. 2 Fort Gibson, Keys fell behind early and never had a chance in this one. The Lady Cougars were behind 14-0 before Sydni Rainbolt buried a pair of free throws.
It didn’t get much better from that point on for Keys (9-8).
Moments later, Keys’ Mylee Hewitt — the Lady Cougars’ leading scorer this season — was poked in the eye, sending her to the bench in pain for the rest of the first half. Without Hewitt and with Rainbolt in early foul trouble, Keys eventually headed to the halftime locker room down 41-11.
“We have to learn sometimes that if you don’t have all your weapons somebody has to step up, and we have to find that,” said Duncan, whose worse loss this season, prior to Saturday, was a 16-point loss to Muldrow in December.
“Like (Friday) night, when Syd goes out, it was the same situation. We have to have somebody else step up. When Mylee goes down, we have to find some answers.”
Sequoyah (9-5), after escaping Henryetta with a four-point win Friday night, racked up its easiest victory since obliterating Graham, 88-16, earlier this month.
The Lady Indians did it by knocking down, seemingly, almost every shot attempt they put up. Sequoyah was 29 of 51 (56.9 percent) from the floor, 50 percent (7 of 14) from 3-point range and 11 of 17 from the free-throw line.
“We haven’t played like that in a while,” Jones said. “We actually came out and played for four quarters, and kept our lead.”
It was the first time this season that everything went Sequoyah’s way, Shade said.
“For once, we got all the loose balls and got all the rebounds,” said Shade, whose team was actually out-rebounded 29-26, with most of Keys’ rebounds coming in the second half with the game already decided. “We rebounded really well. This is probably our best rebounding game that we’ve had this year.”
Keys, led by Rainbolt’s eight points, finished the game shooting 17.4 percent (8 of 46) from the field to go along with 19 turnovers.
“When you don’t play defense, and you don’t rebound,” Duncan said, “it’s not going to be a good day.”
The good news for the Lady Cougars is they get a week off before facing Vian on Saturday.
“We had seven games in 14 nights, and I think that showed up tonight, a little bit,” Duncan said. “We’ve got some recouping to do, and we’ll get ourselves back to where we need to be.”
Sequoyah (girls) 76, Keys 38
Keys 4 7 12 15 - 38
Sequoyah 19 22 16 19 - 76
Keys (9-8): Sydni Rainbolt 8, Candace Haulmark 7, Mylee Hewitt 7, Willis 4, Hunt 21, Drywater 3, Lawrence 2, Nolan 2, Sheffield 2.
Sequoyah (9-5): Courtney Jones 28, Audrey Ballou 22, Loren Young 11, Wright 4, Leach 3, Pacheco 2, Owl 2, Thompson 2, Hooper 2.