By BEN JOHNSON
It couldn’t have come any easier for B.J. Leach.
In the span of six seconds, Keys tried to put the ball in play and work its way across the midcourt stripe. Both times Leach snagged a wayward inbounds pass and convert a point-blank layup.
The rest of the night played out much the same way.
Class 3A No. 5 Sequoyah forced 33 Keys turnovers and won going away in a 64-31 rout between the two Cherokee County rivals on Tuesday night at The Place Where They Play.
“I thought our defense played hard,” Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin said. “We got whipped up into a frenzy and flew around and I think we produced a lot of turnovers.”
No doubt about it. Sequoyah made life miserable for the Cougars (0-1) when they had the ball, cashing in on 21 Keys turnovers in the first half en route to a 38-9 halftime advantage.
“But we started getting on a roll, we were able to score some points,” said Herrin, whose team led 13-0 before Keys’ Wyatt Hix drained a 3-pointer for the Cougars’ first points with 1:32 left in the opening quarter.
Leading the offensive charge for the Indians was Caisen Green. The senior guard notched 13 points on a six-of-11 performance from the field. Zach Parish chipped in with 11 points — nine of which came in the opening half.
Sequoyah had 11 players score on a night when it shot 45.4 percent (22 of 55) from the field in front 850 spectators. Before a three-of-10 shooting exhibition in the fourth quarter, the Indians were 22 of 48 from the floor.
The Indians were also 12 of 20 (60 percent) from the free-throw line. Not stellar but much better than the 18-percent showing Sequoyah (2-0) had from the foul stripe at Riverside on Saturday.
“It was about us tonight just trying to execute,” Herrin said. “We executed some sets early, which was good. And I thought our defense played well. We didn’t try to show too much; we kind of kept it basic tonight.”
Keys — playing without Chase Girdner, who is the Cougars’ top returning scorer from last season’s team — was led by Colton Cox, who scored nine points. No other Cougar player had more than five.
Next up for Sequoyah will be a home date with 3A No. 7 Spiro on Thursday. Keys will open up at home on Friday against Miami. Both games, though, could be subject to change with dicey weather approaching later in the week.
Sequoyah (girls) 58, Keys 37
Anytime Keys would shrink Sequoyah’s lead, Lady Indians coach Larry Callison made an easy decision: he’d call upon his starting five.
The combination of Cenia Hayes, Kelsey Leach, Loren Young, Audrey Ballou and Jhonett Cookson befuddled Keys all night long as the Lady Indians improved to 2-0 on the season. By the end of the contest, Sequoyah’s starting lineup had outscored Keys’ starters 47 to 33.
“That group is our most solid; we’ve got our most height there and that’s also where most of our experience is at,” said Callison, who is in his first year as Sequoyah’s coach. “That probably is our best five, and I feel like the other kids are very complementary coming off the bench and fill their roles.”
Audrey Ballou led the way for Class 3A No. 3 Sequoyah, scoring 16 points on a six-of-11 shooting effort from the field. Jhonett Cookson added a double-double showing for the Lady Indians, posting 13 points and 12 rebounds.
But 20 turnovers and a 39.2 percent (20 of 51) shooting performance from the field had Callison wanting more from his club.
“This is one of those times when we win by 21 and you just don’t feel good about it,” Callison said. “I thought it should have been over at halftime — and not that Keys isn’t a decent ball club — but we’re just making mistakes that we need to eliminate or we’re going to get beat.”
Keys, which trailed 28-19 at halftime, watched Sequoyah jump out to a 38-20 advantage midway through the third quarter before rallying back with a 9-0 run to cut the deficit down to single digits. That’s when Callison pulled his reserves in favor of Hayes, Leach, Ballou, Cookson and Young.
The lead quickly ballooned to 45-29 by quarter’s end.
“We know that Sequoyah has some great players, and they’re well-coached,” Keys coach Mickey Duncan said. “But our players have to do what they’re supposed to do. We’ve got to be a lot more mentally tough than what we showed tonight.”
Also keeping Keys (0-1) from staying close in the end was its inability to make shots from the field. The Lady Cougars — who missed their first nine shots from the field — finished 14 of 45 (31.1 percent) from the floor.
“Way too many missed shots — easy shots, layups,” said Duncan, whose team was led by Sydni Rainbolt’s 11 points before she fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“We have to be willing to take a chance and attack the basket, instead of settling for whatever is easy. And that’s where we’re at right now.”
Sequoyah (boys) 64, Keys 31
Keys 5 4 9 11 - 31
Seq 15 23 19 7 - 64
Keys (0-1): Cox 9, Weir 5, Stayathome 3, Hix 3, Hall 2, Patrick 2, Foreman 2, Littrell 2, Rogers 1.
Tah. Sequoyah (2-0): C.Green 13, Z.Parish 11, Leach 9, Kingfisher 6, Wear 6, Sanders 4, Tucker 4, Kabeah 3, Collins 3, Soap 3, Johnston 2.
Sequoyah (girls) 58, Keys 37
Keys 5 14 10 8 - 37
Seq 12 16 17 13 - 58
Sequoyah: Ballou 16, Cookson 13, Hayes 8, Tiger 8, Leach 6, Young 4, Polk 3,
Keys: Rainbolt 11, Young 9, Nolan 7, Haulmark 5, C.Nolan 4, O'Donnell 1.