SWEETWATER â€” Sweetwater's court got its name Saturday evening, but the player who made a name for himself that night was dressed in red.
Will Phillips came off the bench and led Sequoyah with 14 points on four 3-pointers, three of them during a third-quarter run that all but clinched his teamâ€™s 66-43 win in the latest chapter of the Monroe County rivalry.
"Will is going to be playing a little bit more from now on," said Chiefs coach Daniel Curtis about the sophomore. "Will is coming along in practice, and the kid can shoot the lights out of it. Heâ€™s got a spot on my team any time he wants it."
To make things sweeter for Sequoyah (8-12, 4-3 District 5-AA), the dominating win came on the night that Sweetwater celebrated the 20th anniversary of its 1994 state championship team and named its basketball court in honor of legendary coach Danny Green.
"It's always good to get that," Curtis said. "You kind of feel bad that they pick you to have that night, and it made my players mad and they wanted to score a little more. But it's basketball, you have fun, and you don't embarrass people. You play, but it's good to win on their night."
Unlike in the rivals' first game earlier this month at the Chop House, Sweetwater got few runout opportunities against the Chiefs. But with a much thinner roster than they had in that tough 60-55 Sequoyah win, the Wildcats could not run full court to that extent.
"Our game plan was to try to slow it down," said Sweetwater interim head coach Justin Rutherford, who took over when Chris Shillings stepped down Thursday. "We're only playing seven guys tonight, so we didn't want to push it and get worn down."
The Wildcats (4-19, 1-5) had their last lead at 11-10 after a Ben Allen bucket late in the first quarter. But Kody Hampton hit a triple at the buzzer to put the Chiefs ahead after the first eight minutes.
Sweetwater hung around up through the middle of the second quarter down 18-16 before a Taylor Hawkins 3-pointer ignited a 12-2 run to close the half. Phillips hit the first of his shots from downtown during this run and came up with two steals in the last minute to halt any Wildcat offensive responses.
Coming out of the locker room up 30-18, Trey Strickland kept the Chiefs moving with a pair of hoops, and Phillips' hot shooting added to the 22-7 run that put Sequoyah ahead by as many as 27 points.
"The second half we got tired and worn down, and that's when they pulled away from us," Rutherford said.
For Sequoyah, it was a confidence booster after a pair of losses at McMinn Central and Brainerd that were both competitive for three quarters.
"Weâ€™re getting better," Curtis said. â€śWe played real well and shot the ball well. We played good defense and got hands everywhere.
"They're getting better at the right time."
LADY CHIEFS 55, LADY WILDCATS 34: The box score would indicate yet another comfortable win by Sequoyah over its county rival, but coach Eddie Gambrell didn't see it that way.
"I didnâ€™t think tonight that the defensive mentality was there," Gambrell said. "For whatever reason. I'm not going to say what it is, but itâ€™s just we have to understand that whether we are playing a McMinn Central or a Walker Valley or some of the better teams that we play, or not, we have to come out with the same mindset, and we didnâ€™t do that tonight."
The Lady Chiefs (14-7, 5-2 District 5-AA) jumped out to a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, which swelled to 47-18 by the end of the third.
But unlike what has been the script in this rivalry lately, Sweetwater (1-22, 0-6) managed to limit its turnovers somewhat. The Lady Wildcats turned the ball over only four times in the first half.
"That was one of our keys to success tonight," said Lady Wildcats interim head coach Kaycee Harvey, who took over when Shillings stepped down. "It was limiting our turnovers and making sure we slowed the ball down and try to keep the game within our tempo, so we could be as successful as possible."
However, the Lady Chiefs still scored on plenty of runouts after defensive rebounds to build their advantage, which was 32-14 at the half.
One silver lining for the Lady Wildcats was outscoring Sequoyah's reserve players in the fourth quarter 16-8. And Sweetwaterâ€™s Tyra Hurst led all scorers with 18 points.
"The girls worked hard and gave me all they could for as long as they could," Harvey said. "We just couldnâ€™t get the job done."
SEQUOYAH 55, SWEETWATER 34
SQ 19 13 15 8 â€” 55
SW 6 8 4 16 â€” 34
Sequoyah (55): Laura Whited 10, Jessica White 10, Emily Ingram 9, Savana Atchley 8, Hunter Simpson 5, Chancy Welshan 5, Madi Haymes 2, Mattie Torbett 2, Shelby Davidson 2, Emily Hawkins 2
Sweetwater (34): Tyra Hurst 18, Mandalyn McNabb 6, Betsy Mashburn 4, Courtney Greene 4, Jayonna Ervin 2
3-pointers: Sequoyah 1 (Ingram 1); Sweetwater 0
SEQUOYAH 66, SWEETWATER 43
SQ 13 17 22 14 â€” 66
SW 11 7 13 12 â€” 43
Sequoyah (66): Will Phillips 14, Braden Strickland 11, Taylor Hawkins 10, Seth Schaffer 8, Trey Strickland 5, Kody Hampton 5, Austin Harmon 5, Ian Morris 2, Micah McCrary 2, Dylan Russell 2, Shane Moore 2
Sweetwater (43): Damien Lenard 17, Tyler Hill 10, Matt Stiles 9, Ben Allen 4, Chris Hill 2, Ashaunde Thaxton 1
3-pointers: Sequoyah 9 (Phillips 4, Schaffer 2, Hawkins 1, Harmon 1, Hampton 1); Sweetwater 0