By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
BEGGS – Heading into the fourth quarter of the Class 3A Area I regional semifinal against Beggs, the Sequoyah Indians looked to have things well under control.
Leading 56-42, the Indians, 17-8 and No. 9 in the Okrankings.com Class 3A poll, scored only one point in the final period but that was Trinton Herron’s free-throw with two-tenths of a second left to push the Indians past the Demons 57-56.
“I had always visioned that scenario in my head when I was younger,” said Herron of his game-winning shot.
Sequoyah had built up its 14-point advantage through three quarters then watched as Beggs (16-9) rallied to tie the score at 56-56 with 48.9 seconds left on a free throw by Dolee Wolf. Playing for the last shot, Herron grabbed the rebound of a missed jumper and was fouled by Chris Baccus as the crowd thought the game was headed to overtime.
“Everybody just had their hands down like (Ryan Helsley) missed the shot,” Herron said. “They were expecting the clock to run put and I saw the rebound come down and I tried to hustle over and make a play before time ran out.”
Not knowing what to expect because of the controversy surrounding Sequoyah’s Caisen Green, the Indians were able to put that behind them. Green, whose post of a pit bull he killed with an arrow shot last week garnered a storm of controversy — Green has told investigators the dog appeared diseased — scored the first six points of the game for the Indians and finished with 15 points on the night, sharing team honors with Helsley. Extra security was at the game but the game was played without any incident.
“That’s a non-issue with our team,” said Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin, referring to the controversy. “Everybody supports everybody and we care about each other.”
As far as the fourth-quarter collapse was concerned, Helsley attributed it to too much of a good thing.
“We got up big and I think we started to coast,” he said. “We thought the game was already over. We were forcing bad shots and weren’t getting to the rim like we were in the first half.”
Herrin, on the other hand, referred to the reversal in the Indians’ fortunes as just basketball.
“Momentum’s a fickle thing,” Herrin said. “Shots were falling and the defense was playing great. I have to give Beggs credit. They were defending us really strong in the fourth quarter.
“But we knew that the game wasn’t over. Beggs is a great team and came all the way back and tied it but I’m proud of my kids for pulling out the win.”
With the win, Sequoyah will now meet Henryetta at 8 p.m. Monday in the Class 3A Area I regional final in Okmulgee while Beggs drops into the consolation semifinals and plays Lincoln Christian at 3 p.m. today looking to keep its season alive.
The Beggs regional was delayed one day due to weather-related issues.
Sequoyah 58, Beggs 52
The Lady Indians overcame a nervous start to down the Lady Demons in the regional semifinal in Beggs.
Trailing 17-13 after the first quarter, Sequoyah coach Larry Shade thought a change in defensive strategy might get the offense going.
“We decided to switch to a box-and-one,” Shade said. “That got everything going in our favor.”
The change in tempo helped the Lady Indians to start the second quarter on an 11-2 run on the way to a 28-27 lead at the half.
With Sequoyah hanging on to its one-point lead at 37-36, Feather Pacheco drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Lady Indians a 40-36 lead and all the momentum.
“That was huge,” Shade said. “Normally we have Courtney (Jones) take that shot but Feather can hit it just as well, and did.”
Jones, the only senior, was not short changed on her points as she and Audrey Ballou tied for team-high honors with 19 points. Beggs, 19-6 and No. 7 in Class 3A, was led by Casey Miller with 17 points and Kadee Campo with 11 points.
“Once we were able to get our inside game open, we were able to open it up,” Jones said. “Being the only senior, it feels great to be headed to the regional final.”
In the regional final, Sequoyah will play Henryetta at 6:30 p.m. in Okmulgee while Beggs meets the winner of Okmulgee and Chandler at 1:30 p.m. today in a consolation bracket game.