JACKSON – The Oak Hill Oaks passed the first obstacle in their way on the road to the state championship. On a cold Monday evening, the Oaks went to battle with the South Point Pointers in sectional tournament play.
After a slow start, the Oaks managed to erase an early deficit to take the lead, and then control the game until its conclusion. As a result of being able to make the necessary changes, the Oaks defeated the Pointers, 63-47.
“Coming in, we knew (Tayshaun) Fox was a really good player, and we knew (Elijah) Adams was a good player for them,” Oak Hill basketball coach Norm Persin said. “Fox got off to a really good start, and then we switched our defenses up a little bit.”
Going into the game, Persin knew his squad was going to have to out-rebound the Pointers. Along with crashing the boards, it would be essential for the Oaks to remain disciplined on offense.
“I thought we really ran our offense good tonight,” Persin said. “We got a lot of good looks, and we got to the rim. We had open threes, and we knocked them down. I was really pleased with everything we did on the offensive and defensive end.”
Persin admitted he wondered how his team would respond to the pressure of postseason tournament play. Four of the top six players on the Oaks are sophomores, making the Oaks one of the more inexperienced teams in the tournament.
“I don’t think it really affected us tonight,” Persin said. “I think we came out of the gate strong, and we ended strong, so it was a good win for our kids.”
Once the Oaks got rolling in the latter minutes of the first quarter, they were nearly unstoppable. Oak Hill was able to hit shots from around the perimeter, as well as attacking the basket from the inside. The Pointers just couldn’t come up with a defensive answer.
“We’ve got some very good shooters, and Dennis Fleming has a done a great job of giving us a lot of presence in the post, here lately,” Persin said. “Then we bring Brett Long off the bench and he has played well.
“I thought Cody Swann, a senior for us rebounded the best he has done all year,” Persin said. “He got on the boards for us really well in the second half, and kind of cleaned everything else up when we got in foul trouble with Dennis (Fleming). When you make shots, you look good. When you miss shots your defense isn’t as intense, so it’s all the same.”
The Pointers were able to disrupt the Oaks for the first few minutes of the game, but were unable to really make a run during that time. The largest lead South Point could muster together was a brief four point lead that disappeared several moments after they went up by that margin.
“We slowed Fox down,” Persin said. “He came out of the gate and hit two threes on us. Then he got to the lane and hit a 15 footer. He’s a good player, and he’s a freshman, so he’s a very, very good player.”
Persin said his defense just switched up a little bit and put different guys on him to keep his guys fresh.
“I thought Mitchell Hale went to him in the second half and did an outstanding job guarding him, until right at the end of the game,” Persin
In a brief scary moment for the Oaks, Hale hit his head on the court hard while battling over a loose ball late in the fourth quarter. The Oak Hill sophomore came out of the game for a few moments, only to return, and to continue guarding South Point’s Fox.
As a result of defeating the South Point Pointers, the Oaks will continue in the tournament, and play the Fairland Dragons on Friday, February 19th. The game will take place at Jackson High School, and will have a tip at 6:00 p.m.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Persin said. “They’re very good, and they’ve got a great team. They’re very deep, but you know it’s tournament time, and we’ll be ready.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.
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