WAVERLY – The Waverly Tigers and Oak Hill Oaks faced off in an early season battle Friday evening at the downtown arena in Waverly. Oak Hill prevailed, 56-45, to keep their record unblemished on the young season.
The win takes Oak Hill to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the SOC II. The loss, the first on the season for Waverly, drops them to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
“We played Eastern (Pike) and that’s not a conference game, but they are a good team,” Oak Hill coach. We came right here against one of the better teams in the league and win on the road. When you can win on the road that really helps your confidence.”
The physical contest was close throughout the first half, but a big turning point came when Oak Hill’s Nolan Carroll was whistled for his third foul with a minute left in the half. The foul and the two subsequent free throws cut the Oaks’ lead to seven. The Tigers pulled even closer when Cade Marquez drilled a triple with less than 20 seconds left to cut the Oak Hill to four heading into the break.
The Waverly squad came out playing inspired ball in the second half. Waverly quickly scored on two back-to-back possession and just 1:19 into the third stanza the lead had been shaved to one and Oak Hill was forced to call timeout. Moments later, Clayton Howell connected from long range and knotted the game at 27. Howell’s next bucket just seconds later gave Waverly’s its first lead since the Tigers led, 5-4, in the first quarter. The bucket also capped a 14-3 Tiger run that stretched back into the first half.
The Oaks responded with an, 11-2, scoring run capped by a three-point basket by Mitchell Hale with less than five second to go in the period.
“The biggest play was two things,” Persin said. “We got in foul trouble, in the first half, and put Brett Long on (Cade) Marquez and did a heck of a job on him. Then the three at the end of the third quarter was a set. We ran that extremely well.”
Oak Hill extended the lead to nine early in the final stanza and never looked back. Oak Hill ran its ball control offense always making the extra pass and never taking a contested shot at the basket. The Tigers never got closer than six points throughout the final eight minutes.
“One the biggest keys tonight was get the pace going and make it fast, “Waverly Coach Travis Robertson said. “We didn’t do that tonight. We scored 45 points tonight and that’s not
going to beat Oak Hill. We played their game tonight and they are a lot at their game than we are.”
Waverly travels to South Point to face off with the Pointers on Saturday. The Oaks host the Valley Indians Tuesday night.