MUSKOGEE - The Sequoyah boys basketball team has done it again. For the fifth year in a row the Indians are headed to Oklahoma City for the State Championship Tournament, thanks to a swarming defense and a superb shooting night that included 10 three-pointers and a one-handed slam dunk that brought the house, and Spiro’s hopes, down as Sequoyah (18-8) rolled to a 70-50 victory Friday night at the Muskogee Civic Assembly Center.

“These last 10 games we have been playing better and better.” said Head Coach Larry Grigg. “Spiro is an outstanding team and I am tickled to death for these kids. We started the year having lost seven of our top nine players from last year’s team, but here we are headed back to state.”

The first period was a back-and-forth affair. Spiro star forward Junior Sublet put the Bulldogs (21-5) up quickly at 2-0, but T.J. Hooper drove the lane for a reverse layup to tie the game.

Kyle Littlehead hit the first 3-pointer of the night to give Sequoyah their first lead at 5-2. Baskets by Sublet and Michael Jones put Spiro in front 7-5 at the 5:04 mark. But Chris Little tied the game just seconds later.

Once again the Bulldogs would pull ahead by four, this time with a field goal and a pair of free throws. Jason Travis hit a free throw to cut the Indian deficit to 11-8, but Spiro would rally for five unanswered points to take their largest lead of the game at 16-8 with 1:06 to play in the first.

With the Civic Center filled with the ever loyal Sequoyah fans, the noise level never sank too low, but the Spiro advantage succeeded in turning the raucous cheers into a nervous murmur. Something needed to happen for Grigg’s Indians - and fast, as the Bulldogs controlled the tempo and the momentum.

Dallas Morrison hit a field goal to make the score 16-10. That’s when it happened, a shot heard ‘round the world, or at least the state, that caused the Sequoyah fans to explode with a cheer that nearly blasted the roof off the old arena. With seconds left on the clock, Grigg called for his team to play for the last shot. With three seconds left on the clock Neal Ponkilla drove the lane for what looked to be a layup attempt. Ponkilla’s move was only a bluff as the senior tossed the ball over his shoulder to a wide open Zach Goodrich who buried a 3-pointer with the ball sailing cleanly through the net as the buzzer sounded.

“I was just trying to keep us close, keep us in the game” said Goodrich. But his shot did more than just keep the score close; it rocked the house and lit a fire under the Indians.

With Spiro leading by five at 18-13, Lance and Mike Soap put together a pair of plays that built on the momentum from Goodrich’s three. Lance hit a jumper from the left side of the free-throw lane and Mike came up with a steal and raced uncontested to the basket for a slam-dunk that brought the crowd to their feet and forced a time-out by the Bulldogs with Sequoyah now trailing by only one at 18-17.

“The dunk really got the crowd going even more than they were before,” said Lance Soap. “It was so loud then that I think it shook Spiro up.”

The Bulldogs would score following the time-out to up their lead to 20-17, but they would never see the lead again.

Hooper hit a three to tie the game and Mike Soap and Little hit field goals that put the Indians ahead 24-20.

Lance Soap hit back-to-back field goals to give Sequoyah their largest lead of the game at the time at six points, 28-22 with 3:04 remaining before intermission.

“All of that credit goes to T.J. and the rest of my teammates” said Lance. “We are completely unselfish. It doesn’t matter who scores as long as we win.”

A free throw by Guy McDonald and another last second basket, this one by Mike Soap, kept the lead at six as the teams headed into the locker room with Sequoyah in front 31-25.

Spiro sharp-shooter Sean Thompson hit a three to start the third, cutting the lead in half, but the Indians weren’t shaken. A trip to state was in their grasp and they weren’t letting go.

Hooper hit two quick 3-pointers and Mike Soap added one of his own to put Sequoyah up 40-28 at the 6:30 mark of the third. A free throw by Hooper capped a 10-0 Indian run.

Another three by Mike Soap and a field goal by Hooper gave the Indians a 46-32 lead with 3:53 left. Lance Soap connected on a three to give Sequoyah a 15 point advantage, 49-34 at the 2:32 mark.

The sixth 3-pointer of the third came from the hands of Jesse Factor with 19 seconds left. A steal by Goodrich resulted in a basket by Travis with 4 seconds left as the Indians took a 54-36 lead into the final stanza.

Another 10-0 run started the fourth and sent Sequoyah’s fans heading to their suitcases to pack for a trip to Oklahoma City.

A 3-pointer by Ponkilla started the rally with Hooper, Lance Soap and Littlehead scoring to put the Indians up 64-36 with 4:41 remaining in the game.

Littlehead, Little and Morrison scored the next four Sequoyah points to move the score to 68-44 with 2:28 left.

T.J. Scott scored the final points of the game with 29 seconds remaining to set the final score at 70-50.

Sequoyah 70, Spiro 50

Spiro 16 9 11 14 - 50

Sequoyah 13 18 23 16 - 70

Spiro - Junior Sublet 13, Jordan Clayborne 9, Jamie Sinclair 8, William Whitfield 6, Michael Jones 5, Chad Greenwood 4, Sean Thompson 3, Sean Donohue 2

Sequoyah - T.J. Hooper 14, Mike Soap 12, Kyle Littlehead 11, Lance Soap 11, Chris Little 4, Jason Travis 3, Dallas Morrison 3, Jesse Factor 3, Neal Ponkilla 3, Zach Goodrich 3, T.J. Scott 2, Guy McDonald 1


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