By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
TAHLEQUAH – Two new faces – well, one maybe not as new – made their mark for Sequoyah on Saturday at The Place Where They Play.
One had a more lasting effect.
Caisen Green, a junior coming off a suspension regarding an OSSAA eligibility rule retroactive from his freshman season, scored a game-high 21 points and helped the Class 3A No. 15 Indians hold off a late charge by unranked Cascia Hall to take a 75-63 victory over the Commados.
Meanwhile, in her first game as a Lady Indian, junior Audrey Ballou also had a 20-point effort, but only four points after the half as Cascia Hall rallied for a 43-40 win in the early contest.
A 13-0 run following the first basket of the boys game gave the Indians (5-3) a lead they would hold except for a few early moments in the second quarter. It would grow to double-digits by halftime and stay that way until the Commados began a fourth-quarter push, led by the inside game of Patrick Kaltenbacher.
The 6-foot-3 junior scored 14 of his 18 points after intermission. Among that run was a three-point play that had his team within one possession at 58-55 with 6:06 to play, part of an 11-3 run in the fourth quarter. Zachary Parrish’s pull-up jumper from 15 feet stemmed the tide and Green came up with a steal and layup just after the inbounds pass, making it a seven-point game with 4:35 on the clock. He would score nine fourth-quarter points.
“It just feels good to get back and be out there,” said Green, one of the team’s top scorers last season.
Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin had a warm, fuzzy feeling about it too.
“We knew what we had waiting on him and I know it was tough on him sitting. But he worked hard in practice to keep his spirits up and he did a good job tonight,” the coach said.
Herrin’s job also paid dividends. When Kaltenbacher hit the shot to get it within three for the first time since the second quarter, the Indians coach bypassed a timeout, choosing to let his team play through it.
“I purposely wanted to see how they would handle that pressure on their own and by calling time out it would have been me making a big deal out of it,” he said. “I wanted them to be loose and make plays and they worked their way through it.”
Ryan Helsley had 12 points for Sequoyah. B.J. Leach and T.J. Jones each had 11, eight of Leach’s sparking the Indians in the opening quarter and all of Jones’ points coming in the second, in which they took the lead for good, outscoring Cascia Hall 21-11 after starting the frame by giving up the first two baskets.
Saxon Bryant, a 6-4 senior, had 20 points to lead the Commados, coached by former Muskogee High and University of Tulsa standout Brian Rahilly, fell to 2-7.
Meanwhile, Rahilly’s daughter Jaime proved to be a defensive solution to contain Ballou, who entered the game late in the first quarter and wrecked havoc for a half. She quickly drained a 3 to give Sequoyah, 5-3 and ranked No. 11 in the 3A poll, a 13-12 lead with 6:43 to go in the opening period. She then scored 11 second-quarter points to help her team to as much as an 11-point advantage before the Lady Commandos, 10-2 and ranked seventh in 4A, closed with the final two baskets of the half to trail 25-18 heading to the locker room.
With 16 at that point, Ballou got tighter coverage from the 6-2 Rahilly and managed just four second-half points. Rahilly would end up with nine points but had 13 rebounds, 11 of those on the defensive end, and three blocked shots. Sequoyah maintained the seven-point advantage through the third but Regan Derr’s trey with 3:57 to play gave Cascia Hall (10-2) the lead for good. Derr had eight of her team-high 16 points in the final quarter.
Ballou’s last points came on a pull-up jumper with 1:01 to go in the third, making it 31-26. She was the Lady Indians’ only double-figure scorer. Courtney Jones had nine points as the other part of Sequoyah’s inside punch.
“I thought they got in a little bit of a hurry trying to score the second half and were rushing shots instead of squaring up, and they didn’t have to because they were open a lot,” first-year Sequoyah girls coach Ron Cox said. “But they did adjust to us defensively and (Rahilly) was tough out there.”
Sequoyah will return to action in the Bedouin Shrine Classic on Tuesday with the girls playing Graham at 4:30 p.m. at Muskogee Civic Center and the boys taking on Tulsa Webster at 9 p.m. at Muskogee High School.