Two years ago, the Sequoyah boys were the toast of the county, amassing a perfect regular-season record and capturing a Region 7AAAA championship before their 29-game win streak was snapped by eventual state champ Miller Grove in the second round of the playoffs.
Last season, the Chiefs — who had graduated seven seniors — were a far cry from the team that didn’t drop a game in the regular season the year before, managing only a 15-14 record and a first-round exit from the postseason.
Now in Region 7AAAAA (A), coach Jeremy Adams is determined to see his squad improve.
“For all that we had lost from the year before, it was good to get back to the playoffs last season, but we were still unhappy with the 15 wins,” Adams said. “Hopefully, we are going to improve upon that this year and go deeper into the state playoffs. We’re expecting to play for a region championship.”
To do that, Adams will rely on three returning senior starters from last year to lead the Chiefs on the court — guard Solomon Ajose, forward Brandon Ingleton and forward Blaine White.
Ajose, the 2011-12 Cherokee Tribune Boys Basketball Player of the Year, averaged 19 points per game last season.
“They have done a great job on and off the court as leaders,” said Adams, a former Sequoyah player who has coached the Chiefs for six years. “They haven’t missed a workout and have been leaders throughout the offseason. It’s definitely nice to have kids that have been there before and know what it takes to be successful.”
Also expected to contribute for the Chiefs will be senior guard Preston Skersick and junior forward Dalton Satterfield, as well as guards Austin and Logan Taylor.
Ajose will spearhead a fast-paced offense that put up 93 points against Roswell on Monday for Sequoyah’s first victory of the season.
The Chiefs, however, also gave up 81 points to the Hornets, and it’s on defense that Adams feels the Chiefs must improve the most.
“I know we can score, but we are going to have to defend better,” he said. “It’s important that we not only get some stops, but rebounds as well. We are going to have to be a rebounding team.”
Derrick Dewitt, the first-year coach of Sequoyah girls team, believes that, to raise his team’s record above .500 for the first time in three years, the Lady Chiefs may have to undergo some trial-and-error early in the season.
“We are going to have to learn a little bit each game, but already they are trusting the coaching and adapting,” said Dewitt, formerly the boys coach at Lambert High School in Suwanee. “I think we have the ingredients to put Sequoyah girls basketball back to where it used to be.”
Rather than rely solely on strong post play or a fast transitional attack, Dewitt plans on using both in equal parts to put points on the board.
“We’re going to do our best to play in the post, but we also have some talented guards who can push the tempo. We’re not shy about shooting,” Dewitt said. “You can expect a balanced attack from us.”
Starting for the Chiefs will be senior power forward Maggie Hartman — who recently committed to play basketball at Harvard — junior point guard Emily Ryan, senior guard Madisen Sunday, sophomore guard Tori Rogers and senior forward Kierra Smith.
Also expected to see significant minutes is sophomore Kyli Schmitt.
The county’s only new coach, Dewitt hopes his team’s style of play will make a strong first impression.
“The situation is kind of familiar, as I was the only new coach in the county my first year at Lambert, so it’s a fun time for me to make an impression that is both positive and professional,” Dewitt said. “I hope that the way our girls play will speak volumes about me and my staff.”