PDT Sports Writer
ATHENS — When Oak Hill crashes a party, the Oaks do it in style.
Thanks to a fast start, No. 2 Oak Hill won a Division III Southeast District Final Friday night 57-35 over No. 1 Sardinia Eastern at Ohio University’s Convocation Center. The win is the first district title for the Oaks since they won the 2009 Division IV State Championship. The win also marks career win number 643 for Oak Hill coach Norm Persin, placing him tied for fifth in Ohio High School boys basketball history with former Elyria coach Bob Walsh.
“We didn’t think that we would hold them to 35 (points) but we told our kids all week in practice and before the game started they are going to see the best defense they’ve seen all year,” Persin said. “We took pride in that and I said we were going to play harder and defensively better than they’ve seen. That took them out of their rhythm early and then naturally when you make shots, it’s a lot easier to play hard defense when we’re making them.”
The Oaks took advantage of an injured Chase Lawson, who was limited to four shots and was scoreless. Lawson was a First Team Associated Press Division III All-Southeast District selection this season.
The Warriors were held to 14-of-49 shooting. While Eastern was limited in its opportunities to score, Oak Hill was seven-of-seven from beyond the arc in the first half for a 37-15 lead.
“We’re capable of doing that, when we get everybody playing on (all) cylinders like that, shooting the ball, we’re an excellent basketball team,” Persin said. “It was just waiting for us. About the last five games we struggled shooting it and I told the kids your second game at The Convo, this is a great place to shoot.”
The capper came when Luke Hammond banked a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the end of the half.
“Luke said (he couldn’t) believe (he) banked that one in,” Persin said.
The Warriors made their best run in the third quarter, outscoring the Oaks 10-2 but still facing a 14-point hole entering the fourth. A basket by Garrin Stiltner to start the fourth put Oak Hill back on the right track.
“We told our kids the game is all about streaks,” Persin said. “Well that was their streak and that was our bad one.”
The Oaks will take on Piketon Wednesday night in a Division III Regional Semifinal at The Convo. The Redstreaks defeated Crooksville 54-45 in the second district final of the evening.
Persin said no matter how far this season goes, he feels this group deserves all of its accomplishments.
“I think that we’ve surprised a lot of people,” Persin said. “Everybody has said Oak Hill is good but they didn’t think we could be where we are at today.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com.
Oak Hill 22 15 2 18 — 57
Sardinia Eastern 8 7 10 10 — 35
Oak Hill — Harrison 0-2-2, Stiltner 4-4-13, Haislop 5-3-16, Kidd 2-0-5, Salyers 0-2-2, Cox 1-0-2, Love 1-4-6, Hammond 4-1-11, Totals 17-16-57.
Eastern — Pickerill 0-1-1, Scott 6-3-16, Stivers 2-0-6, Prine 6-0-12, Totals 14-4-35.
3-Point Goals — Oak Hill 7 (Haislop 3, Hammond 2, Stiltner, Kidd); Eastern 3 (Stivers 2, Scott).
Records — Oak Hill 21-4; Eastern 22-3.