By RICHARD STROUD
Press Special Writer
CHOCTAW – Despite a valiant effort, a shorthanded Sequoyah Lady Indians squad fell to the Millwood Lady Falcons 56-45 in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament at Choctaw High School on Thursday.
After trailing most of the game, the Lady Indians used a 13-4 run to trim what had been an 11-point Millwood lead to just two after Taylor Johnson hit a jumper with 3:15 left in the game. But the Lady Indians (19-9) would only manage one more point on a Megan Larney free throw the rest of the way.
It was a game of contrasts in which a shorter, slower Sequoyah squad tried to use its pressure defense and outside shooting to overcome the Lady Falcons' height advantage. And despite shooting just 6-of-29 from beyond the three-point arc, the Lady Indians stayed with the fourth-ranked team in the state most of the way.
Nikki Lewis led the way early for Sequoyah, scoring five of the Lady Indians' first six points, including a three at 4:30 mark of the first quarter that gave Sequoyah a 7-6 lead.
With Sequoyah trailing 14-10 early in the second quarter, it was senior guard Taylor Johnson who took over on the offensive end, hitting back-to-back shots to give the Lady Indians a 15-14 lead.
Unfortunately that would be the last time the Lady Indians would lead in the game, as the Lady Falcons (23-5) scored six quick points to retake command before a late Sequoyah surge made it 22-21 Millwood at the break.
Millwood would take command for good, in a decisive third quarter. Taking advantage of their dominance on the defensive glass, the Lady Eagles consistently turned missed Sequoyah shots into easy baskets at the other end. Teanna Reid and Dayla Threatt were especially effective for Millwood. Reid, a 5-3 freshman guard, finished with a game-high 22 points, most of them around the basket, while the 5-11 Threatt finished with 17, 13 of those coming in the second half, along with 10 rebounds. For the game Millwood outrebounded Sequoyah 33-20.
"When you don't block out that's what happens," Sequoyah head coach Bill Nobles said. "We did too much standing and watching."
After trailing 42-31 with 6:30 to go in the game, the Lady Indians were finally able to hit some shots from long range to get back in the game. Threes from Lewis, Johnson and Tara Comingdeer sparked the fourth quarter run that got the Lady Indians back into the game, but another cold-shooting stretch from the field ended any hopes for an upset. The Lady Eagles helped Sequoyah by going 6-of-20 from the free throw line, including all seven of their attempts in the first half.
Johnson finished with 17 to lead Sequoyah, with Lewis chipping in 10 points and six assists. Lewis was forced back into the point guard position because of Laci Marsden's knee injury in the Area Consolation final against Heavener. Without Marsden and Lindsey Hammer, who averaged over 15 points a game last season but missed all of this season with a torn ACL, the Lady Indians were too short-handed to overcome last year's state runners-up.
"When you consider that we had 39 points sitting on the bench, I'm pretty happy with how we did," Nobles said, referring to Marsden and Hammer. "We could've done a lot of things better, but I'm really proud of how our kids played. I thought we gave a great effort."
Millwood 56, Sequoyah 45 (girls)
SHS 10 11 8 16 – 45
MHS 14 8 16 18 – 56
SHS: Taylor Johnson 17, Nikki Lewis 10, Lynsey Dry 7, Megan Larney 5, Tara Comingdeer 3, Courtney Jones 2, Anaweg Smith 1.
MHS: Teanna Reid 22, Dayla Threatt 17, Quira Demery 11, Lauren Fonteno 5, Alicia Grigler 1.