Tahlequah Daily Press

High School Sports

March 11, 2014

State bound again

Familiar scene for Indians at state tournament

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

The calendar says 2014, but any confusion would be understandable.

For the second straight season, Sequoyah, Sperry and Okemah find themselves in similar situations heading into the Class 3A state tournament.

“We were like, ‘we’ve been here, done this,’” Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin said. “We have a game before possibly playing Okemah, and that’s another early game.”

Much like this time last year, Sequoyah, ranked fifth in Class 3A, finds itself with a matchup against No. 7 Sperry. The Indians (23-3) and Pirates (24-5) are slated to meet again in the 2 p.m. game in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

The only different this year is the venue. Versus playing at Yukon High School, the site this season will be at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City.

Even main figures on both teams remain the same. For Sequoyah, it’s Caisen Green, B.J. Leach and Elijah Tucker. Meanwhile, Casey Cole and Peyton Pratt headline the Pirates’ roster.

“I feel like they are a little better than they were last year,” said Herrin, whose team advanced to the state tournament with a 64-55 victory over Verdigris in the Area IV finals on Friday night.

“Their kids have matured, and the Cole kid — about 6-7 — he’s really a force inside. And the point guard, Pratt, is probably one of the best point guards we’ll see all year long. They’ve done nothing but gotten better.

“It’s going to be a battle; we’re going to have to play well.”

In 2013, Sequoyah used 18 points from Ryan Helsley and 14 from T.J. Jones to coast past Sperry, 73-65, in the first round of the state tournament.

What followed was a 10:30 a.m. tipoff against Okemah in the semifinals. This year, a rematch with Okemah would be even earlier — at 9 a.m.

“We hope that we’re having to gripe about the 9 o’clock game on Friday,” said Herrin, whose team lost to Okemah 55-35 in the state semifinals last season. “That means we’ve won on Thursday. Then we hope we get to play at noon on Saturday for a (gold) ball.”

Also vying for the 3A crown on the other side of the bracket will be No. 2 Centennial, No. 3 Spiro, No. 4 Verdigris and sixth-ranked Atoka. And in Herrin’s opinion, 3A’s new champion could be any one of the eight teams left.

“That’s what everyone was talking about at the meeting in Oklahoma City, saying ‘everybody’s got a shot,’” Herrin said. “Okemah’s been ranked No. 1, but it’s not a clear-cut No. 1.

“There’s probably not a dominant team or a weak team in (the field). Everybody has a good team, and that’s the way it should be.”

Unlike 2013, Millwood won’t win the 3A title this year. The Falcons are down in Class 2A this season. So a total repeat of last season won’t be entirely possible.

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