By JOHN D. FERGUSON
OKLAHOMA CITY — It took just over four minutes before Sequoyah got on the scoreboard. That was the ominous start to the Class 3A boys semifinal State basketball tournament with No. 2 Okemah Friday.
A State Fair Arena crowd of 2,000 watched the No. 8 Indians fall behind 7-0 and spent the rest of the game trying to catch the Panthers.
Okemah had too much defense and a potent offense to end Sequoyah’s tournament run 55-35.
Okemah (26-3) got a big game from Stoney Newton, who had a game-high 17 points. Teammate Dion Scott added 16. Both players were hard to contain.
The Indians (20-9) made one serious run. Sequoyah pulled to within two points twice at 13-11 and then 15-13. But, an 11-2 scoring blitz capped by a 3-pointer by Ryan Titsworth with 3:42 left in the second quarter gave the Panthers a 26-15 bulge.
The Indians could never catch up after that.
“Their defense was very tough,” Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin said. “I expect them to win it all. We ran up against a really good team.”
Okemah shot 54.5 percent from the field (24-of-44) and out-rebounded Sequoyah 27-21. The Indians managed just 14-of-40 from the field for 35 percent and 3-of-12 from 3-point range.
“It’s still been a successful year,” Herrin added. “We won 20 games and made it back to the semifinals.”
Seniors Tyler Jones and Ryan Helsley led Sequoyah with 11 and 10 points, respectively. No other Indian managed more than four points.
“We made it to the State tournament for the first time in a couple of years,” said Jones. “The whole team is proud keeping the legacy alive. I’m glad to be here. I’d never been here in my life (to State Fair Arena).”
Jones had the best shooting game of the team. He hit 5-of-10 from the field.
Helsley was the better long-range shooter on the team this game. He made 2-of-5 from 3-point range and 4-of-9 overall.
“I had a lot of fun (playing this season),” Helsley said. “I love these guys. I wouldn’t want to play with any other team.”
A testament to Okemah’s defense came in one statistic. Sequoyah was held to its lowest scoring total of the season. Keys had held the Indians to 36 points on Dec. 1, but the Panthers went one better to punch their ticket to the 3A boys final.
OKEMAH 55, SEQUOYAH 35
Sequoyah 11 8 5 11 35
Okemah 15 16 17 7 55
Sequoyah: Jones 11, Helsley 10, Parish 4, Herron 3, Tucker 3, Hammer 2, Leach 2.
Okemah: Newton 17, Scott 16, Guinn 9, Wingfield 6, McIntyre 4, Titsworth 3.