Sequoyah-Tahlequah wins championship battle of No. 1s

Richard R. Barron | The Ada News
The Sequoyah-Tahlequah Lady Indians won the championship of the 43rd Annual Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic, sponsored by Vision Bank.

Once Sequoyah-Tahlequah got a little breathing room in the fourth quarter, the team’s talented guards weren’t about to let a lead slip away.

The Lady Indians played a good game of keep away down the stretch, made clutch free throws and held off Vanoss 57-48 to claim the championship of the 2019 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic.

The Lady Indians, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, ran their record to 9-1 on the year. Their only blemish was a 53-48 loss to Class 6A No. 6 Booker T. Washington Dec. 14 at the Tahlequah Tournament.

Meanwhile, Vanoss — No. 1 in Class 2A — saw its season-opening 12-game win streak come to an end and dropped to 12-1.

Richard R. Barron | The Ada News
Members of the all-tournament team for the 43rd Annual Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic include, from left to right: Emrie Ellis of Vanoss, MVP Lexy Keys of Sequoyah-Tahlequah, Smalls Goudeau of Sequoyah-Tahlequah, Rylee Langerman of Christian Heritage Academy, Caley Young of Jones, Bailey Ely of Jones, Kira Berkey of Hydro-Eakly, Rachel Barry of Hyrdo-Eakly and Emily Wilson of Vanoss. Not pictured are Kylee Smith of Canute and Lexie Davis of Christian Heritage Academy. Sequoyah-Tahlequah senior Lexi Keys was named the Most Valuable Player for the 2019 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic.

Jones won the rebounding battle 37-28 and had 15 offensive boards and was able to force Vanoss into 20 turnovers with its relentless defensive pressure.

“We knew they were going to be really good. If you’re going to beat them, you’re going to have to do a better job on the boards and not turn the basketball over,” said Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt. “It’s hard to emulate what they do and when you don’t see that all year, it takes some time to get adjusted to their speed of the game and their length.”

The Lady Longhorns led 45-37 heading to the fourth quarter before Emily Wilson hit a 3-pointer and scored on a putback to get Vanoss within 45-42.

Rileigh Rush hit a free shot for Vanoss with 6:27 to play to make it 47-43, but tournament MVP Lexy Keys answered with two free throws of her own to push the Jones lead back to six with 5:55 showing.

Smalls Goudeau hit a bucket for Sequoyah-Tahlequah with just over four minutes left in the game to put her team on top 51-43, and Lizzy Simpson fouled out for Vanoss at the 3:57 mark. Those two plays began to signal the beginning of the end for the Lady Wolves.

The Lady Indians went 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 3:08 — including four from Keys — all while milking precious time off the clock with each possession.

“In the end, we made free throws down the stretch and took care of the basketball, and that was the difference,” said Sequoyah-Tahlequah head coach Justin Brown. “We spread them out. Size is their strength, and guards are our strength. We had the lead and took advantage of our speed on the outside the last four or five minutes, and that made the difference.”

The Lady Indians led by as many as 10 during a 20-12 run in the second period, but a free throw by Emrie Ellis and a 3-point bank shot by Wilson just before halftime made it 27-21 at the break.

A Keys jumper midway through the third period put Sequoyah-Tahlequah ahead 34-27. Vanoss responded with nine consecutive points, including six by Simpson. Her basket with just over two minutes left in the period gave Vanoss a 36-34 lead and had the pro-Lady Wolves Kerr Center crowd rockin’.

However, the Lady Indians outscored Vanoss 11-1 over the final minutes of the third period — including a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper by Baylee Davis — to build a 45-37 lead and set the stage for the fourth quarter.

Hurt said the entire Mid-America experience should pay dividends for the Lady Wolves on down the road.

“I’m really proud of the kids. We played some of the best teams in the state for three straight days and looked pretty good throughout. We can learn from this because we’re going to play other good teams … It will help us in the long run,” he said.

Simpson led the charge for Vanoss despite her early exit. She finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, both team-highs. Wilson tossed in 14 points and hit four 3-pointers, and Ellis chimed in with 12 points, six rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots and two steals.

Keys played every bit of the MVP role for Sequoyah-Tahlequah. She finished with a game-high 25 points, hit 15-of-16 free throws and had five steals.

“She’s our leader. She does a little bit of everything. She handles it, shoots it and plays great defense,” Brown said. “What I’m most proud of is she hooks up on both ends of the floor. She’s not just out there to shoot it. She’s going to guard you — I don’t know how many deflections she gets in a game. She just makes everyone else around her better. Kids like that are hard to come by, and we’re lucky to have one.”

Goudeau added 10 points and nine rebounds for the winners, while Jaide Long followed with eight points, including a pair of 3-point baskets. Jessica Mackey also scored eight points off the bench and had two triples of her own.

Ironically, Sequoyah-Tahlequah wasn’t one of the original eight teams that were selected to compete in the 2019 Mid-America Classic, sponsored by Vision Bank. Another team dropped out in Mid-November, and the Lady Indians jumped at the chance to enter the Mid-America field.

“There’s a reason this tournament is considered one of the best. I’ve been to other big tournaments over the holidays, but the way our kids were treated and the way the tournament is ran is just on another level,” Brown said. “We had a great time, and we appreciate all the hospitality here. We couldn’t be more thankful to be here and honored to be a part of it. It’s unfortunate for the way it worked out for the other school. But like I said, we’re honored to be here. I’ve always held this tournament in high regard, and we enjoyed it.”

Richard R. Barron | The Ada News
Emrie Ellis of Vanoss drives to the basketball against Sequoyah-Tahlequah defender Jaide Long during Saturday night’s championship game of the 2019 Mid-America Classic at East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.

Lady Bobcats whips Canute in Class A battle

Hyrdo-Eakly sent a clear message to the rest of Class A Friday at the 2019 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Tournament: “We’re the team to beat.”

The Lady Bobcats broke open a close game with a dominant second half and cruised by Canute 68-38 in the tournament’s fifth-place game.

Top-ranked Hydro-Eakly improved to 10-1 on the year and completed a season sweep of No. 2 Canute, which dropped to 12-3. The Lady Bobcats defeated Canute 67-57 back on Nov. 22.

Hydro-Eakly led just 25-21 at halftime and Canute pulled within 28-26 on a free throw by Haley Schreck at the 5:54 mark of the third period.

The Lady Bobcats responded with seven straight points, including a fast-break layup and a 3-pointer by Kira Berkey that stretched the Hydro-Eakly lead to 35-26 at the halfway point of the third quarter.

Canute trailed 45-35 heading into the fourth quarter before the bottom really fell out.

After Madison Faylor hit a 3-pointer at the 5:21 mark to get the Trojanettes within 51-38, Canute would never score again.

Hydro-Eakly ended the game with an impressive 17-0 volley to run away with the figure and establish its dominance in Class A.

The Lady Bobcats put up an incredible 65 shots compared to 31 for Canute thanks in part to 18 offensive rebounds. The Hydro-Eakly defense also forced a whopping 36 Trojanette turnovers.

Rachel Berry finished 6-of-10 from the field and made 9-of-11 free shots on the way to a game-high 21 points. She also had five rebounds and five steals.

Berkey added 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Five other Hydro-Eakly players scored at least four points.

Kyle Smith led Canute with 11 points and seven rebounds, both team highs, off the bench. She hit 5-of-7 field goals and also had three steals. Faylor ended up with eight points, six rebounds and three steals.

Richard R. Barron | The Ada News
Hyrdo-Eakly’s Kira Berkey (1) puts up a jumper between three Canute defenders — Madison Faylor, Kylie Savage and Kirstyn Strain — during the Mid-America Classic’s fifth-place game Saturday inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.

Jones topples CHA for third place

Jones dominated the boards and used a stiff defense to stifle short-handed Christian Heritage Academy and rolled to a 55-31 win Saturday night in the third-place game of the 2019 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic at East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.

The game featured a battle between two of the top teams in Class 3A. The fourth-ranked Lady Longhorns improved to 6-1 on the year, while No. 2 Christian Heritage dipped to 6-3.

The Lady Crusaders were without the services of senior starter Lexie Davis, who suffered a knee injury during a semifinal loss to Vanoss on Friday but was still able to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.

CHA didn’t have an answer for Jones’ post players Tirzah Moore and Caley Young. Moore scored a game-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, while Young finished with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. The Lady Longhorns ended up with a 41-20 rebounding edge. Moore and Young also had three steals apiece and were instrumental in helping their team force 19 CHA turnovers.

Christian Heritage stayed close for the first four minutes but Jones used a 13-3 run to take a 17-7 lead after Moore hit a layup for the first bucket of the second quarter.

Things went from bad to worse for the Lady Crusaders from there. Jones limited CHA to 2-of-12 shooting in the second period and outscored the Lady Crusaders 17-4 to build a 32-11 halftime lead.

Jones scored the first six points of the third period to stretch its lead to 38-11.

CHA standout Rylee Langerman had a productive outing with 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Myka Parrish just missed double figures with nine points and Grace Littlejim followed with seven to round out the Lady Crusader scoring.

Nine different players reached the scoring column for Jones.

Richard R. Barron | The Ada News
Jones players huddle up with their trophy after capturing third place at the Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic Saturday night inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center.

Kingston levels Lady Miners for seventh place

Kingston had three players in double figures and used a big second half to hustle past Hartshorne 88-46 in the seventh-place game Saturday at the 2019 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic, sponsored by Vision Bank.

The Lady Redskins, expected to be contenders in Class 3A entering the season, improved to 3-5 on the year. Kingston entered Mid-America play ranked No 13.

Hartshorne, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, has struggled offensively throughout the tournament and left town with an 8-3 mark.

Kinston led just 19-17 after the first quarter but used a 15-9 run in the second to carry a 34-26 lead into the halftime locker room.

The Lady Redskins kept the pressure up and outscored Hartshorne 17-11 in the third period and 17-9 in the fourth.

Kassie Bailey led the KHS charge with 19 points. She sank 5-of-7 3-point shots and finished 7-of-13 overall. Bailey also had four assists.

Bri Henderson scored 15 points for Kingston, while Tyla Bohannon registered a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Jaylee Moore hit five 3-pointers and led the Lady Miners with 17 points. Ashton Hackler just missed double digits with nine points.

The Lady Redskins out-rebounded Hartshorne 39-16.

Kingston is expected to get a boost next month when junior Avri Weeks returns to the lineup after recovering from knee surgery.

Richard R. Barron | The Ada News
Kassie Bailey of Kingston drives through the Hartshorne defense during Saturday’s seventh-place game at the 2019 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic. Bailey scored 19 points in Kingston’s 68-46 win.