By JOHN D. FERGUSON
OKMULGEE — The Sequoyah boys and girls high school basketball teams doubled their pleasure Monday night as each won a Class 3A Regional basketball championship. It marked the first time since 2008 that both teams captured Regional crowns in the same year.
The No. 8 Indians pulled away late from No. 7 Henryetta to win 63-49. The No. 11 Lady Indians surged in the second and third periods to wallop unranked Henryetta 80-41 before 500 in the Bulldog gymnasium.
The dual Regional trophies had another interesting twist: It was the ninth crown for each team in school history.
Tahlequah Sequoyah 80, Henryetta 41 (girls): Audrey Ballou score points in bunches in the second and third quarters as Sequoyah exploded past Henryetta.
Ballou was deadly with 24 points and nine rebounds. The 5-foot-8 junior even made a nifty third-quarter, reverse lay-up to cap her unreal game.
“She’s capable of taking over (a game),” said Sequoyah coach Larry Shade. “I said to her, ‘It’s time to take over.’ “
Ballou followed her coach’s instructions. She scored 18 of her 24 points in the middle quarters.
What made the victory more devastating was Ballou was not only the only hero. Baylee Ratliff hit 15 points, Courtney Jones added 12 plus six assists and Feather Pacheco downed 10. Overall, Sequoyah passed the ball and played pressure defense well.
“That’s the best I’ve ever played when we came out in the second half,” Ballou said. “At halftime, coach told us to play our hardest in the first three minutes (of the second half) and that would determine the game for us.”
The Lady Indians led 25-22 with 1:43 left in the second quarter. The game had been tied four times and the lead changed hands on eight occasions.
The last 1:32 before halftime would be all Sequoyah. Ballou scored, Ratliff had two baskets and Pacheco hit two free throws to sudden lead 33-22. A late 3-point basket by Henryetta made it 33-25 to end the first half.
A 14-2 run by the Lady Indians to open the second half would seal the victory.
Ballou had 10 third quarter points and missed only one field goal attempt. Jones nailed a 3-pointer and two regular baskets. Ratliff managed five points during the third quarter.
Makayla Blackbear led Henryetta with 11 points. Aleia Murphy scored six, but had a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Lady Indians (19-7) advance to the Area tournament and need just one win to reach the State tournament. Henryetta (14-12) also reached Area, but needs three wins to make State.
Tahlequah Sequoyah 63, Henryetta 49 (boys): It was not until the final 3:51 did the Indians finally pull away. The Knights stayed close and refused to quit.
But, Ryan Helsley and B.J. Leach got hot and fueled the charge. Helsley and Leach each scored 18 points. Leach used his speed to the basket while Helsley muscled his way through the paint for baskets.
“We picked it up in the fourth quarter,” Leach said. “We started sharing the ball more.”
Helsley took charge of the game more and that pleased coach Jay Herrin.
“He’s always been good, but he’s found his niche (muscling to the basket),” Herrin said.
“I’ve put more on my shoulders since I am a senior,” Helsley said of his strong season finish.
No other Sequoyah player scored more than 10 points, but everyone played pressure defense.
“This is a special night,” Herrin added.
The Knights (21-5) advance to the Area tournament despite the loss. Sequoyah (18-8) moves on as well and needs only one more victory to reach the State tournament.
TAHLEQUAH SEQUOYAH 63, HENRYETTA 49 (BOYS)
Tahlequah Sequoyah 12 14 14 23 63
Henryetta 10 15 12 12 49
Tahlequah Sequoyah: Helsley 18, Leach 18, McNac 7, Green 7, Parish 5, Jones 4, Hammer 2, Herron 2.
Henryetta: Caywood 18, Johnson 12, Brown 7, Mouse 6, Ward 5, He. Konsure 1.
TAHLEQUAH SEQUOYAH 80, HENRYETTA 41 (GIRLS)
Tahlequah Sequoyah 12 21 28 19 80
Henryetta 13 12 6 10 41
Tahlequah Sequoyah: Ballou 24, Ratliff 15, Jones 12, Pacheco 10, Leach 7, Owl 4, Polk 4, Redeagle 2, Wright 2.
Henryetta: Blackbear 11, Taylor 8, Gouge 8, Murphy 6, Tabor 6, Hamric 1, Wallace 1.