Raiders take district opener with ‘best’ games

Daniel Harrington, no.10, stretches for a loose ball in the win over Marshall Academy Friday night.
Staff Writer

The Oak Hill girls and boys basketball teams waited for the right time to play their best games of the season.

Both squads shook off some first-half miscues and put together big second halves to win their district opener over visiting Marshall Academy.

The girls won 63-50 while the boys won 46-38. Both teams trailed at the half.

As has been the case several times this year, the boys started slowly, working their way to an 8-6 first quarter lead with Cooper Hill and Ash Cullum each putting up four points. While the pace was sluggish, it was just what the doctor ordered for Oak Hill and that combo of Hill on the inside and Cullum on the outside was a good sign.

The Patriots began to find their range in the second quarter, clawing back to take a 21-20 lead at the half as Phillip Parks and Jeremiah Jones began to heat up. They scored eight points and five points respectively to carry the Patriots.

The two offenses slowed the pace again in the third period which would play into the Raiders’ hands, who took a 28-26 lead heading into the final period. The Raiders’ offense came to life, putting up 18 points  with Cullum scoring nine and Daniel Harrington, another big man, adding six.

Seven of Cullum’s points in the period came from the free throw line as he went seven for eight from the stripe. Nate Lamkin added a big three-pointer in the period.

The Raider defense limited the Patriots to 12 points to close out the win.

“We played one of, if not our best game of the year. We had 15 turnovers which is a lot better that 27 or 25 like we’ e had in our last few games,” Oak Hill boys coach John Bauer said.

“We played a 2-3 zone that was very effective limiting them on the inside. Marshall is a very good team and luckily they missed some of their outside shots against the zone. We rebound well in the second half, too, which limited their second chance points,” he added.

The more deliberate approach also served the Raiders’ strategy well.

“We controlled the pace of the game. When we play slow, we do a great job. When the pace is fast, we struggle. We worked hard in practice on breaking the press and dealing with Marshall’s pressure defense. We just need to continue to practice and for the guys to know they can handle the pressure and big games,” Bauer explained.

Even with an off night, Marshall still hit four three-pointers, including three in the second half.

Cullum finished with 15 points while Harrington chipped in 14. Practice at the free throw line has helped as Cullum went 11 for 12 for the game.

Cooper Hill, another big man, posted 10. Brandon Stevenson finished with four while Lamkin had three.

Parks led Marshall with 14 points while Jeremiah Jones and Everett Jones had 10 each.

The story was similar in the girls’ opener except the Lady Raiders blew things open with a decisive third quarter.

They got out fast, taking a 15-7 lead after one quarter only to go cold as Marshall found back to take a 24-22 halftime leader.

Whatever Coach Mindy Bowman said at the half, it worked as the Lady Raiders went on a 21-10 run to seize control. They continued the offensive pressure, outscoring the visiting Lady Patriots 20-16 to close out the victory.

The tale of the third quarter was balance and team contribution. While Carley Wooten did her share, scoring eight of her game-high 31 points, she had help. And that made a difference.

Sydney Pierce scored five, McKenzie McGee added four and Sara Nash and Reagan Freeman to spread the load and keep Marshall from focusing on one player.

They kept it up in the fourth quarter with Wooten scoring nine with Anna Grace Reed pitching in seven, including three free throws, and senior Reagan Freeman adding four.

“It was a great win, it finally all came together,” Bowman said of the victory. “It was great teamwork , execution on offense, heart and hustle on defense. It’s a good way to go into the holidays with a district win  and a confidence builder.

“We had a letdown in the second quarter but came out wanting to win in the second half. There was no changes in scheme, just a decision by the girls to step up and win,” Bowman added.

In addition to Wooten’s 31, Freeman scored 11, Reed finished with eight, Pierce got six, McGee four, Sara Nash two and Dovie Suggs one.

The Raiders take a break for Christmas and return to action in a holiday tournament at East Webster Dec. 27-29.