CANTON — After Tuesday night’s game at the War Lodge, there will likely be a shakeup in the state basketball rankings.
In front of a raucous home crowd, No. 5 Sequoyah knocked off No. 1 South Cobb 67-56, ending the Eagles’ 17-game winning streak. Students rushed the court following the postgame handshakes, and the Sequoyah players were all smiles after their biggest win of the season.
“It was just a really fun game to play in,” Sequoyah senior Jacksen Greco said. “We really wanted that one.”
After falling to South Cobb 78-68 in early December, Sequoyah (15-4, 9-2 Region 6AAAAAA) came out the aggressor in the rematch. The loss was only the second all season for South Cobb (18-2, 11-1), which held on to first place in the region standings.
“We kept our composure, we knocked down free throws, we rebounded and, especially, there at the end, we defended,” Sequoyah coach Allen Carden said. “I felt like we were focused for 32 minutes. We had played them even for a quarter or two, but we’d never done it for a full game.”
South Cobb, led by Emon Washington and Zocko Littleton Jr., showed early on why it is regarded among the best teams in Class AAAAAA. Littleton knocked down a 3-pointer to open the scoring for the Eagles, and Washington established himself inside, scoring nine points in the first quarter as South Cobb led 17-15 at the start of the second.
A 15-2 run to open the second quarter built a 33-23 lead for Sequoyah and was highlighted by Ayden Watson’s dunk and a three-point play by Dashaun Robinson. Greco, who finished with 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting, connected on a fade-away 3-pointer to cap the run and give the Chiefs a 35-27 lead at halftime.
Defense and rebounding sparked the second-quarter run. Sequoyah, which struggled to rebound on the defensive end earlier in the season, crashed the boards on both ends from the opening tip.
“The No. 1 key to beating (South Cobb) is keeping them off the glass,” Carden said. “We’ve got to be able to play with that kind of energy every game because, even tonight, South Cobb was still extremely difficult to deal with.”
Littleton, who finished with 11 points, began the second half aggressively with two straight baskets, but Sequoyah answered with a 10-2 run of its own and extended the lead to 45-33. The Chiefs pushed the ball at almost every opportunity through the first three quarters and finished at the rim against a physical and athletic South Cobb side.
“They outplayed us, they outhustled us and they got every 50/50 ball,” South Cobb coach Gregory Moultrie said. “They wanted to knock off the No. 1 team, and they played like it.”
Sequoyah led 49-39 to begin the fourth quarter, but South Cobb quickly cut the lead to 55-50 following a three-point play by Washington. The game seemed to swing behind Sequoyah’s Robinson, who scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
It was Robinson’s defensive presence, however, which help spur on the Chiefs as the 6-foot-4 forward finished with seven blocks to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.
“We knew from the jump we were going to come out with energy tonight because we really wanted this one,” Robinson said. “We really focused on boxing out, especially in the second half. The fans were awesome tonight, and the band really helped. The atmosphere was just crazy.”
The Sequoyah student section chanted “MVP” as Robinson knocked down a pair of free throws in the final minutes. The Chiefs made six of their seven free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter and Donovan Shipp handled the South Cobb pressure to secure the win for Sequoyah.
Shipp finished with eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals, and Watson finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three assists.
It was the 10th consecutive win for the Chiefs, who remained second in the region standings.
South Cobb will play at Creekview on Friday night, while Sequoyah will travel to River Ridge.