By BEN JOHNSON, Tahlequah Daily Press
Sequoyah’s only obstacle to overcome Friday night against Stigler was avoiding possible physical altercations early on. Other than that, it was a cake walk for the Class 3A No. 4 Indians in the first round of postseason play.
Sequoyah put on a relentless offensive showcase en route to an 89-34 victory to claim the Class 3A Area IV District 2 championship at The Place Where They Play.
Thirteen players scored for the 3A No. 4 Indians, led by Caisen Green’s 15 points. Niko Hammer added 11 of his own, and three players (Stuart Polk, Reilly Sevenstar, Nick Wacoche) each totaled nine apiece.
After stumbling out of the gate with only 13 first-quarter points, the Indians averaged 25.3 points in every quarter the rest of the way.
“We started slow,” said Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin, whose team eclipsed its previous season high of 86 points at Lincoln Christian in January. “They ran a little zone on us, a 1-3-1. We were prepared for it with working the last two days on it. But sometimes it just takes a little bit to get going. …Once we got rolling, we took off pretty good.”
Despite their seventh win in their last eight games, the Indians didn’t lead throughout in this one. Stigler (7-14) took advantage of Sequoyah’s off-target shooting early on, scoring first on Colton Shearwood’s conventional three-point play.
The good vibes wouldn’t last long for the Panthers, though. Sequoyah would get contributions from five players in the scoring department to record the final 13 of 14 points in the first period.
“They just wore us down,” said Stigler coach Moody Smith, whose team finished 12 of 46 from the field. “Defensively, they’re very aggressive. It was just relentless.”
Hammer would take over in the second period, notching eight points to lead Sequoyah’s 27-point charge heading into the break.
“Niko’s 3s were big early,” Herrin said. “Once we finally got that little lead, I don’t know if it’s that we relaxed, but we just kind of got focused and then we took off.”
The Indians’ offensive barrage also seemed to spark some frustration for the Panthers, who were slapped with two technical fouls before halftime, including one that involved Polk picking up a technical after getting tangled up with Trevon Stubblefield. Combined, the two teams went to the free-throw line 27 times after both teams found themselves in the double bonus in the opening 16 minutes.
“I was pleased that we kept our composure,” Herrin said. “It was kind of a physical game and there was a lot of fouling.”
But cooler heads would prevail and Sequoyah picked up where it left off, offensively.
Green, after posting seven points in the first half, logged 8 points in Sequoyah’s 29-point third quarter. By the end of the third period, the Indians led 69-24.
“When he gets going, he’s pretty good,” Herrin said of Green, who was 5 of 7 from the floor. “It’s just trying to get his motor running and attacking the basket, which opens up his outside game.”
In the fourth quarter, Wachoche, Mike Landaverde and Elijah Tucker put on a show. The trio combined for all 20 points scored by the Indians in the closing stanza. Landaverde ended up being one of two Sequoyah players with seven points in the game, along with Tanner Alley.
“I just try to make the best out of every opportunity that I get,” Landaverde, a 5-foot-9 senior. “I barely get to play, but I work hard every day and hope that I get my time during a game.”