Both Sequoyah basketball teams came to Signal Mountain Friday night for Region 3-AA quarterfinal games as fourth-place finishers in District 5-AA and both with losing records.
Apparently, they weren’t ready to turn in their equipment just yet as they played like there was no tomorrow against the host teams.
Both teams from Madisonville ended up on the short end of the final score, but it wasn’t because the Signal Mountain teams played great.
Quite the contrary.
But if the old saying, “It’s better to be lucky than good” ever came into play, that was the case Friday night.
The Lady Eagles needed a four-minute overtime period to prevail, but somehow and someway, they were able to do that with the 63-60 victory.
The Signal Mountain boys didn’t need an overtime, but it took two buckets from senior Sylvestro Sylvestro in the final 90 seconds to be the difference in the 44-42 final.
The Lady Eagles were the only 6-AA girls team to survive Friday’s quarterfinals and will play Meigs County on Monday night at Red Bank in the second game. McMinn Central faces Sweetwater in the opener at 6.
Meigs County romped past Brainerd by a 78-36 final while McMinn Central pounded Tyner by a 58-15 final. Sweetwater advanced with a 56-48 win over Red Bank.
The Signal Mountain boys await the winner of the Howard-Sweetwater game, which will be played at Sweetwater Saturday night.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN GIRLS 63, SEQUOYAH 60 (OT): The Lady Eagles haven’t played well in their last two games, but who’s counting style points when the key at this point in the season is simply winning and advancing.
That’s exactly what the Lady Eagles did.
Signal Mountain coach Kendra Bell just wishes she had answers for all of her questions.
“I thought we played well in overtime, but I wish we could come out and play like that from the start,” she said after her team improved to 20-11.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of energy out there, but somehow found a way to win. We played a lot of tough games early in the season and I think that’s paying off right now. I don’t think we’re peaking, but we’re barely surviving. At least, we showed some guts at the end,” she nodded.
Sequoyah coach Spencer Beaty will probably have more sleepless nights in the coming weeks than he would care to admit after his girls gave up a seven-point lead with less than three minutes to play.
“That was a great job by Signal Mountain as they were able to overcome the storm,” Beaty said after his team’s season ended at 9-17.
“We had to call some timeouts early that hurt us late. I don’t think we played very well in the first half as we missed a ton of layups, but we found a way to get back in it in the second half.
“We played hard and I’m never disappointed with our effort. We had our chances and maybe should have won the game, but we didn’t take care of the basketball and simply didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” he added.
A 12-8 Signal Mountain lead after the first quarter stretched to 25-18 at intermission.
The Lady Chiefs began their comeback in the third stanza and knotted the score at 31 when Bailee Lane canned a 3 from the key with 1:52 left. Another 3 by teammate Mallorie Harrell a minute later allowed the visitors to take the lead for the first time at 36-33 and the difference was 38-35 with eight minutes remaining.
Things simply didn’t look good for the Lady Eagles at that point as they were lethargic on both ends of the floor and appeared to be totally disinterested in playing a basketball game of any kind.
Harrell sank a pair of free throws with 2:46 left in regulation for a 52-45 Sequoyah lead and that’s when the Lady Eagles decided to start playing.
Kendall Davis bagged a pair of long ones to get the Lady Eagles within 52-51 with 1:45 to play. Signal then regained the lead on a three-point play by Olivia Koontz with 14.3 seconds to play before Harrell sent the game into overtime with a drive down the lane in the final seconds.
Kaitlyn Harris gave the visitors a 59-56 edge with a 3 to start the extra period, but Davis answered with one of her own before Koontz scored on a putback to give the Lady Eagles a 61-59 lead with 1:23 left.
Harris sank the second of two free throws with 29.3 seconds to get the Lady Chiefs within 61-60, but Jolie McGann hit two big charity tosses with 18.2 ticks left for the final margin.
Koontz had a double-double for the Lady Eagles as she scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Lady Eagles had an unofficial 33-23 advantage in rebounding.
Davis was next with 14 points while Jayla Hardy had 11 for the winners.
Harrell and Harris set the pace for the Lady Chiefs with 19 and 18 points, respectively, while Lane had 11.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN BOYS 44, SEQUOYAH 42: It was almost as if the Signal Mountain boys tried to imitate the girls as they weren’t very impressive either.
But again, winning and advancing is the most important thing and that’s what Signal Mountain coach Steve Redman kept telling himself.
“That was horrible, terrible and ugly, but we survived and advanced. That’s all that matters,” the lanky Redman said afterward.
“I really didn’t think we’d win as we weren’t focused at the start. The stage was big tonight and that may have been a factor, but tonight, Sequoyah made us play their game. The only thing I liked was the fact we hit the last shot.
“Sylvestro Sylvestro is a senior who didn’t want to lose tonight, but we had some kids tonight who didn’t play well. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do and we’re lucky that we didn’t get beat,” Redman concluded matter of factly.
It was a tough loss for coach Josh Graves and his Chiefs, who finished their season at 12-14 with losses in four of their last five games.
“I thought my kids deserved to win that game, but we were a little bit outmatched athletically,” he said after a post-game chat with his team.
“There are just times when high school kids make mistakes. Signal Mountain made the plays at the end and we didn’t. It’s a heartbreaker. My guys played their tails off. Getting to the basket has been our strength all year, but our shot selection down the stretch left a lot to be desired that probably was the difference in the game,” Graves added.
The Chiefs never trailed in the first half.
A 14-9 lead after the first quarter was only 26-23 at intermission. The Chiefs kept the upper hand until Jarren Radden scored on a nice inside move with 4:20 to play for Signal’s first lead at 32-31.
Isaac Byrd’s only bucket of the game came with a second to play as the Eagles had a 36-35 lead with one quarter remaining.
Sequoyah scored the first five points of the final stanza for a 40-36 lead, the last coming when Matthew Jump hit the second of two free throws with 5:46 remaining after Sylvestro picked up his fourth personal.
Rodden scored on a putback to get the Eagles within two before Malone Howley’s layup with 2:31 to play knotted the score at 40-40.
Joe Grant sank two charity tosses with 2:15 to give Sequoyah its final lead at 42-40.
As it turned out, the Chiefs never scored again as Sylvestro came back and scored the tying and winning bucket at the end, the last one with 35 seconds to play.
The Chiefs had a final shot to either tie or win, but John Douglas Wiggins missed from the line as the buzzer sounded.
Radden had a double-double for Signal Mountain with 12 points matching his dozen rebounds as the Eagles had an unofficial 27-20 advantage on the glass.
Sylvestro was next with 11. Owen Honroth only had seven points, but he grabbed eight rebounds.
Wiggins was tops for Sequoyah with 18 points. Grant followed with 12. Wiggins also snagged six rebounds while Grant claimed five.
SEQUOYAH 8 10 20 18 4 -- 60
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 12 13 10 21 7 -- 63
SEQUOYAH (60) – Lane 11, Belcher 3, Miner, Wiggins, Harrell 19, Carroll 5, Harris 18, Borden 4.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (63) – Davis 14, Hardy 11, Boals, Sitton, McGann 6, Witherspoon 9, Hansen, Koontz 23.
3-POINT GOALS: Sequoyah 10 (Lane 3, Belcher, Harrell 2, Carroll, Harris 3); Signal Mountain 5 (Davis 4, Witherspoon).
SEQUOYAH 14 12 9 7 -- 42
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 9 14 13 8 -- 44
SEQUOYAH (42) – Jump 5, Millsaps 3, McKee 2, Self, Grant 12, Benson, Kile 2, Wiggins 18.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (44) – Howley 8, Allen 2, Sylvestro 11, Webb 2, Honroth 7, Radden 12, Byrd 2.
3-POINT GOALS: Sequoyah 2 (Grant 2); Signal Mountain 1 (Sylvestro).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)