By BEN JOHNSON
MUSKOGEE — Basketball is pretty easy when you’re shooting layups all day long. Just ask Sequoyah.
The Class 3A No. 15 Indians made a living at the rim, making 53.7 percent of their shots in a not-as-close-as-the-final-score-indicates 74-58 rout of McAlester at the Muskogee Civic Center on Saturday afternoon.
“We played good,” Sequoyah’s 6-foot-1 senior Ryan Helsley said following the third-place game of the large school boys bracket in the Bedouin Shrine Classic.
“Coach told us before the game that we needed to push the ball, and I think we did that.”
Helsley was one of 11 Sequoyah players to score against the Buffaloes, pouring in a team-high 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting. He did most of his damage in the second and third quarters, scoring 13 of his points of mostly easy shots underneath the rim.
He was able to do that because Sequoyah’s full-court press was a living nightmare for McAlester (3-8). The Indians made the mid-court line seem like a brick wall at times, forcing McAlester turnovers in the backcourt, which led to uncontested or moderately easy shots.
“That’s just how we play,” said Helsley, whose team forced 32 turnovers in 32 minutes of action. “That’s just how they coach us up to play.”
The Indians (7-4) were also deeper on the bench than McAlester was. Sequoyah outscored McAlester’s bench, 30 to four.
“Today I wanted to spread the minutes out and make sure we had fresh guys out there,” said Sequoyah coach Herrin, who got 11 points from T.J. Jones, seven from Quinton Johnston and six from Mahli McNac off the bench.
“So we went a little deeper into the bench, and that kind of shortened their rotations down a little bit.”
It was Sequoyah’s starters that put some separation between the two clubs in the second quarter. With the game tied at 16, the Indians generated a 13-0 run to erase any doubt in how this one was going to end up.
“We knew they might hang with us early for a little while,” said Herrin, whose team shot 29 of 54 from the field. “And we thought we could wear them down at the end of each half, and that’s kind of what we did.
“Once we got (the game) wiped up into a frenzy, it was pretty good for us.”
Not even a perfect shooting quarter could help McAlester be competitive. The Buffaloes were 7 of 7 from the field in the third quarter, but 10 turnovers hampered McAlester’s comeback efforts.
Todd Dawkins finished a perfect 6 of 6 from the floor to score a game-high 18 points for McAlester. Jalen Erving and Darrion Brown both also scored in double figures for the Buffaloes with 14 and 12, respectively.
For Sequoyah, wins over Webster and McAlester, coupled with a narrow setback against Jenks on Friday night, send the Indians into a Tuesday contest at Cascia Hall with a renewed sense of confidence.
“We look at (this tournament) as a chance to improve against really good competition,” Herrin said. “Nothing against small schools or anything like that, but when we get a chance to play bigger schools, we like to do that. It kind of shows us where we’re at and what we need to work on.
Sequoyah 74, McAlester 58
McA 12 13 18 15 — 58
Seq 14 25 22 13 — 74
McAlester (3-8): Todd Dawkins 18, Jalen Erving 14, Darrion Brown 12, Zach Skimbo 7, McCormick 4, Boyle 3.
Sequoyah (7-4): Ryan Helsley 15, Trinton Herron 14, T.J. Jones 11, Caisen Green 9, Johnston 7, McNac 6, Hammer 4, Leach 2, McClure 2, Parish 2, Collins 2.