By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
PARK HILL — Loren Young received a pass in the paint from Courtney Jones and calmly scored a basket with three seconds to play to give the Sequoyah girls a 56-54 victory Saturday night over Keys at Cougar Fieldhouse.
The game-winning effort came just nine seconds after Keys’ Kayla Hunt tied the contest at 54-54.
“We just scored too quick on our final possession. We gave them enough time to get back down the floor,” Keys coach Mickey Duncan said. “We did what we were supposed to do with the opportunity that we had, but you just can’t leave that much time on the clock.”
Jones, who led all scorers with 18 points, took the inbounds pass and raced down the floor through a pressing defense. The final two defenders collapsed on her as she drove into the lane, leaving Young wide open. Jones found her teammate, who gave the Lady Indians the road victory.
“I knew if I drove to the basket, I would either draw a foul or there would be a girl wide open,” Jones said. “I drove as hard as I could, and there was Loren. I passed to her and we made it.”
The thrilling finish capped an exciting battle that went back and forth all night long between the two Cherokee County rivals. The score was tied 14-14 after the first quarter, and Sequoyah had narrow leads after both the second (30-29) and third (38-36) quarters.
Keys opened the fourth quarter on a quick 6-0 run to take a 42-38, but Sequoyah battled back in a final eight minutes that saw five ties and six lead changes.
Leading the way for the Lady Cougars was forward Syndey Rainbolt. She recorded 14 points, 13 rebounds and five steals in 29 minutes. Kandace Hallmark added 10 points and five rebounds for the home side.
Jones filled up the stat sheet for Sequoyah with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks.
“Courtney is a senior and she’s our leader,” Sequoyah coach Larry Shade said. “She stepped up tonight and did an excellent job. She’s someone we can rely on and go to when we need a big play in crunch time.”
Jakkie Wright came off the bench to add 10 for the Lady Indians.
Keys 53, Sequoyah 36 (boys)
The Keys boys jumped on top of Sequoyah early and never looked back, earning a 53-36 victory Saturday night.
The Cougars shot 51 percent from the field and held the Indians to just 25 percent shooting. The home team dominated inside all game long, outrebounding Sequoyah 46-20 and scoring 40 points in the paint to just 14 from the visitors.
“(Sequoyah’s) shooting percentage shows that we played pretty well on the defensive end of the floor tonight,” Keys coach Duane Jones said. “I think they were off a little bit. They had some open shots that just weren’t falling tonight. Our big guys, and even our guards, rebounded the ball extremely well tonight.”
Payton Ragsdale led Keys with 17 points and eight rebounds. Tyler Blankenship added 14 points and seven boards, and Cody Cole contributed 11 points and eight rebounds. Trevor Eubanks turned the ball over nine times, but he made up for it with nine points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Keys pulled ahead early, gaining a 15-2 advantage after the first quarter. Sequoyah was able to cut four points off that deficit in the second quarter, as the home side led 27-18 at intermission.
The Cougars would not allow the Indians to mount any sort of comeback, however, as the home side outscored the visitors 26-18 in the second half.
Despite the loss, Sequoyah was able to force 22 turnovers, while turning the ball over just 10 times. The Indians also recorded 16 steals to just five from Keys.
“We average about 30 turnovers a game, so we’re looking for a few more than 22, but I thought our defensive effort was good tonight,” Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin said. “Our offensive effort did not match our defense. We had poor shot selection at times. Instead of attacking the basket, we settled for pull-up jump shots that weren’t falling.”
T.J. Jones was the only member of the Indians to finish in double figures. He ended with 12 points.