Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

March 13, 2014

Health hampering Sequoyah leading up to state tournament

Injuries to Audrey Ballou and others have Sequoyah hobbling into the Class 3A state tournament

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

It's the same formula for any team playing in the state tournament. A combination of health, skill and fortune will typically yield a state championship the majority of the time.

The Class 3A No. 5 Sequoyah girls have the skill factor going for them with girls like Loren Young (9.3 points per game), Cenia Hayes (13.6) and Jhonett Cookson (13.1) gracing the starting lineup.

However, fortune and health seem to be absent for the Lady Indians (25-2) heading into their state-tournament matchup at 7 tonight against No. 9 Heritage Hall at Southern Nazarene University.

"I've always said you have to lucky, playing good at the right time and you can't lose kids," Sequoyah coach Larry Callison said. "When you lose a key kid, you just don't replace those kids, hardly."

Sequoyah is living proof of that right now. With Audrey Ballou nursing a torn anterior cruciate ligament in one knee, the Lady Indians are having to forge ahead without her 13.2 points per game and her offensive skill set.

"I didn't realize how much we did miss Audrey until — we were OK through the regional, because we were just the better team there," Callison said. "But against Verdigris and Vian, we really missed her size and her outside shooting and other things she did for us."

Callison did allude to the possibility of Ballou suiting and logging some minutes in the state tournament. But even he was iffy on the amount of production she'd be able to churn out.

"She's going to suit up, and we may even play her some in the state tournament," said Callison, who actually suited Ballou up for both area tournament games against Vian and Verdigris without logging any playing time. "I don't know what she can do, but we'll kind of leave that up to her."

Also banged up for the Lady Indians heading into the state tournament is point guard Kelsey Leach. The senior signal caller twisted her ankle against Vian and has been practicing gingerly on it this week.

Callison, though, expects Leach to play at near full capacity.

"She'll be OK," Callison said. "She probably just won't be at 100 percent."

Yet, the injuries keep mounting up for a team that began the season with state championship aspirations. Now, three wins seems like a longshot for the Lady Indians.

"Strange things happen (in Oklahoma City), so you never know," Callison said.

A win over Heritage Hall would result in a likely clash at 6:30 p.m. on Friday with Adair, who has been ranked atop 3A all season long.

"No doubt, they're the team to beat," Callison said. "For us, to get past the first one, it'll be tough. The second one will be even tougher."

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