The Region 7AAAAA runner-up Lady Chiefs (22-7) trailed 10-9 after the first quarter and led 17-13 with 4 minutes left in the second when Emily Ryan connected on a 3-pointer. Hiram (22-5) then scored the final four points of the second quarter to tie the game, but the Lady Hornets never had as much of a share of the lead again.
Coming out of the break, Megan Garcia hit her second of two 3-pointers in the game to put Sequoyah up 20-17. Alyah Thomas scored for Hiram and cut the Lady Chiefs’ lead to three before Lauren Hartman and Ryan scored to end the quarter.
Sequoyah coach Derrick Dewitt said he reminded his players to just play their game, which is what they did in the third quarter.
“It was just getting back to who we are,” Dewitt said. “We were getting beat on effort plays. We’ve got to win those effort plays. We have to win every rebound and value the ball.”
In the fourth quarter, Ryan stopped any chance of a Hiram rally when she scored seven straight points. After a basket by Garcia, Ryan capped the game’s scoring when she made both attempts on a 1-and-1 situation at the free-throw line.
Ryan led Sequoyah with 18 points, including 11 in the fourth, while Garcia finished with 10. Kelley Hartman, who pulled down numerous defensive rebounds, was held to just two points when she fouled out of the game in the fourth.
As is the Lady Chiefs’ style, they limited Hiram offensively.
Thomas led with 14 points. Taylor Simmons, who finished with nine points, was the only other Lady Hornet to score more than four points.
Dewitt attributed the low scoring to his defense. Hiram took few uncontested shots.
“Over the season, we have held teams well under 25 percent from the field, so I like to credit our defense for that,” Dewitt said. “(Hiram) made shots early, but we started defending and limiting their second chances.”
Looking toward the second round, the Lady Chiefs will travel to face Region 6AAAAA champion Southwest DeKalb, likely on Monday. Dewitt knows his team is capable of more than it showed Friday, or even in the Region 7AAAAA tournament.
“We just have to defend, talk, rebound, use effort and let the rest take care of itself,” Dewitt said. “We just have to recognize double-teams, continue to share the ball and take the easy plays that are given to us and just continue to build, stop after stop.”