Tahlequah Daily Press

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

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

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."



3A girls state capsules

No. 5 Sequoyah Indians


Record: 25-2.

Coach: Larry Callison.

Players to watch: Loren Young (6-0, Sr., 9.3 ppg), Cenia Hayes (5-9, Fr., 13.6 ppg).

Notes: Point guard Kelsey Leach twisted her ankle in Sequoyah's 58-53 win over Vian in the area consolation game, but she is expected to play in the state tournament. ... Forward Audrey Ballou, who suffered a severe knee injury in Sequoyah's district tournament against Keys, may suit up and play for the Indians at the state tournament.



No. 9 Heritage Hall Chargers

Record: 19-5.

Coach: Leslie Warner.

Player to watch: Erika Wakefield (5-5, Sr., 20.2 ppg).

Notes: Heritage Hall beat second-ranked Alva in the area finals to reach the state tournament for the second time in school history. ... Heritage Hall has never won a game in the state tournament. ... Wakefield has signed to play at the University of Tulsa.



No. 1 Adair Warriors

Record: 26-1.

Coach: Scott Winfield.

Players to watch: Kylie Looney (5-9, Jr., 18.0 ppg), Keni Jo Lippe (5-9, Fr., 15.0 ppg).

Notes: The Warriors lone loss this season was against Norman North in the Tournament of Champions championship game. ... Adair won the 3A championship in 2013.



No. 8 Hugo Buffaloes

Record: 21-5.

Coach: Chris Scott.

Notes: Hugo's only state tournament victory was in 1994. ... Shaniqua Patterson averages a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds per game.



No. 4 Verdigris Cardinals

Record: 25-2.

Coach: Mike Buntin.

Players to watch: Baileigh O'Dell (5-5, Sr., 21.8 ppg), Courtney Risenhoover (5-11, Jr., 10.9 ppg, 7 rpg).

Notes: Verdigris made it to the state tournament with a 53-40 victory over Sequoyah in the Area IV championship game. ... O'Dell has signed to play college basketball at Lamar.



No. 2 Alva Goldbugs

Record: 25-2.

Coach: Eric Smith.

Players to watch: Jaden Hobbs (5-8, Soph., 20.5 ppg), Lora Riley (5-9, Jr., 10.4 ppg).

Notes: The Goldbugs are 7-2 against ranked teams this season. The two losses were against 2A No. 3 Fairview and 3A No. 9 Heritage Hall in the area finals. ... A 41-24 win over Tishomingo  in the area consolation game helped Alva secure its spot in the state tournament. ... Not a single Alva starter is a senior.



No. 3  Washington Warriors

Record: 26-0.

Coach: Rocky Clarke.

Player to watch: Kelsey Johnson (6-3, Soph., 17.3 ppg).

Notes: Johnson is Washington's lone player with a double-digit scoring average. ... Warriors last won the state tournament in 2007.



No. 11 Spiro Bulldogs

Record: 21-6.

Coach: Kayla Harrington.

Players to watch: Philicea Mack (6-0, Sr., 16.2 ppg), Carleigh Thompson (5-7, Soph., 11.1 ppg).

Notes: Spiro made it to the state tournament via an area consolation title with a 50-47 win over Kansas.