MARIETTA — Playing in its first game of the new year, Sequoyah held on for a 65-60 overtime victory over Columbia in the Tournament of Champions showcase at Kell High School on Saturday.
It was the seventh win for the Chiefs (7-6) in their last nine contests but after building a substantial lead in the first half, the outcome became precarious in the final minutes of both regulation and overtime. The win was also a welcome sign following a 63-47 loss at Christian Heritage last week.
This was the final non-region game for Sequoyah before resuming its Region 7AAAAAA schedule later this week at Chattahoochee. Sequoyah coach Allen Carden said it’s better to learn lessons in victory rather than defeat.
“It was very important that we play well in this game, more important than winning game,” Carden said. “We needed to play well and let the chips fall where they may. It was an added bonus to go into overtime and win the game. You’ve gotta have these type games as the season goes along because it’s going get tighter.”
Sequoyah 15-10 lead after one quarter. The Chiefs’ first-half lead was due in part to their activity on the offensive glass. They recorded 14 offensive rebounds in the first two quarters which led to a number of second-chance points. Ayden Watson, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, finished consecutive baskets to finish the first quarter, both following offensive rebounds.
Preston Parker’s 3-pointer following an offensive rebound gave Sequoyah a 25-17 lead midway through the second quarter and was followed by Dylan Wolle, who finished with a game-high 29 points, finishing a reverse layup. Against a Columbia team with superior size, Sequoyah’s energy in the first half help build a 34-21 halftime lead.
“Rebounding doesn’t care if you’re tall or not. It rewards hustle and heart,” Carden said. “We have to correct being strong with the ball though. We’ve gotta work on that and maybe this will help us with that.”
Columbia, who was led by Mason Lockhart with 12 points and seven rebounds, made it’s run in the third quarter. The Eagles outscored Sequoyah 21-11 in the quarter and seemed to increase their energy level on the defensive end. Sequoyah led 45-42 to start the fourth quarter and lost the lead when Lockhart put Columbia up 46-45. Wolle answered with a 3-pointer and Sequoyah never trailed again.
The Chiefs led 58-56 in the final minute of regulation, but Columbia forced a turnover in with less than 30 seconds to play and finished on the other end to send the game into overtime. Wolle knocked down a 3-pointer to open the overtime period and the Chiefs forced multiple turnovers defensively to hold on to the win.
“We definitely could have held the ball there better at the end,” Wolle said. “It’s a big win for us though after that loss last week and it’s definitely good to hold on for the win in this kind of setting. It’s good practice for us and I’m sure we’ll continue to work on end of game situations in practice.”