KINGSTON - If only the Chiefs had been able to put it all together.
During its 65-51 loss at Kingston on Tuesday, Sequoyah (9-13, 3-7 District 5-AA) showed some good things, including strong defensive play at times and periods in which its offense would heat up.
The problem was that the positives didn’t happen at the same time; Sequoyah’s offense struggled while its defense was potent, and vice versa. That led to the Chiefs’ inability to ultimately keep up with the host Yellow Jackets (13-8, 0-6 District 4-AA).
“That’s the first time (the varsity players) have ever played in here,” Sequoyah head boys basketball coach Andy Pennington said. “We’re learning every game. It’s a new experience every road game. We’re learning a lot but we’re accepting it and we’re moving on.
“I’m proud of them. They fought. We got it to a two-possession game there in the fourth quarter and they got some guy that’s never made a three all year makes a three. We’re going to get it. We’re just two or three possessions from being a (really) good basketball team.”
The game’s first quarter was as good an example of the inconsistency as any. The Chiefs defense did well at holding Kingston’s offense at bay, but Sequoyah’s own attack floundered, with the team missing multiple good looks inside.
Sequoyah trailed 12-5 to start the second quarter, and that deficit escalated to 28-18 by halftime.
In the third period, one marred by Chiefs defensive woes, Sequoyah’s offense finally found its groove, knocking down shots to cut Kingston’s lead to single digits. The quarter ended with the Yellow Jackets ahead by just eight points, 44-36.
But as per the trend, Sequoyah’s defense didn’t help out its offense, with Kingston nailing multiple 3-pointers to get back to a sizable lead that ultimately turned into the 64-51 final score.
“(Kingston is) just good,” Pennington said. “Good offense beats good defense any time. They’ve just got shooters. It’s either, ‘Am I going to let the guy shoot from 20 feet or two feet?’ So I’m trying to keep them in front. We’re zoning a little bit and they made shots. That was the difference.”
Dillon Stakely led the Chiefs in scoring with 16 points, followed by Cooper Strickland at 15. Stakely nailed three 3-pointers, his shot of choice.
With few regular season games remaining, Sequoyah has little time to address key issues before postseason play. Pennington isn’t concerned about that, though.
“I could care less about (our) record,” Pennington said. “That record could easily be flip-flopped because we’re two or three possessions a game from being … we could easily be 13, 14. We could have 13, 14 wins.
“But we’re learning and we’ve got three more chances to learn … We’ve got (Kingston) again and we’ve got William Blount and Heritage. So I’m excited. If we just keep fighting, we’ll be fine. We’ll give whoever wants to play us in the district tournament all they want.”
Kingston 56, Sequoyah girls 41
Tuesday’s showing was arguably one of the Lady Chiefs’ best this season.
Sequoyah notched multiple steals, often following up with transition scores, and played aggressively. It just wasn’t enough.
The Lady Chiefs lost 56-41 at Kingston despite the positives they showed, just three games before the regular season comes to an end.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (12-8, 4-2 District 4-AA) took an early lead, but Sequoyah (8-14, 4-6 District 5-AA) tied it at 6-6 with a 3-pointer.
Those were the last points the Lady Chiefs would score in the initial quarter, though, with Kingston leading 15-6 to start the second.
Julie Watson played well defensively for Sequoyah, snatching steals and scoring off of them. Macy Miner showed out too, grabbing numerous rebounds while leading the offense at the point.
Sequoyah trailed by just five points at the half, 24-19, but the final two quarters weren’t as good for the Lady Chiefs.
Kingston came out of halftime hot, quickly taking a double-digit lead that led to a 44-28 end-of-third-quarter advantage. The Lady Yellow Jackets cruised from there to the 56-41 win.
Jesee Weese paced Sequoyah with nine points, followed by Olivia Underwood and Abbey Borden with five each.