Wins boost Raiders for district play

Staff Writer

The Oak Hill boys used a balanced attack that featured scoring from nine players to overwhelm visiting Starkville Christian 49-36 Tuesday night to pick up a little confidence after a string of tough late-game losses.

On the girls side, the Lady Raiders shot lights out from the free-throw line down the stretch to put away Lady Cougars 48-37, building a little momentum going into Friday’s district opener.

“We got a win, great hustle and effort. A big key was we made more free throws, especially at the end of the game,” girls Coach Mindy Bowman said, praising Carly Wooten who finished with 21 points and Sydney Pierce who scored seven off the bench.

The free throws do tell the story. The Lady Raiders were 4-of-10 in the first half, and 2-of-8 in the third quarter. In the critical fourth quarter, they were 16-of-19 with Wooten going 8-for-8 and Anna Grace Reed going 4-for-4.

Oak Hill led 5-5 after a sluggish first quarter and clung to a 16-15 lead at the half. The offenses sputtered again in the third quarter with the free-throw maladies keeping the Lady Raiders from holding more than a 24-22 edge after three stops.

When the shots started falling in the final quarter, it made the difference as Oak Hill outscored their visitors 24-15 with the free throws making the difference. Starkville Christian actually outscored Oak Hill 10-8 from the field during the last period.

In addition to 21 from Wooten and seven from Pierce, which all came in the second half, the Lady Raiders got 6 from Reed, all the the final period, six from Reagan Freeman, four from McKenzie McGee, three from McKenzie Middleton and one from Dovie Suggs.

Starkville Christian was 5-for-11 from the stripe in the fourth quarter after going 6-for-9 in the first three periods.

Tanner Smith led the Starkville Christian girls with 15 points, Emma Hicks added eight, Olivia Moore and Kristina Eaves got four each, Mary Driskell had three, Rebekah Lane two and Lana Ballard one.

In the boys game, a critical third quarter defensive stand proved to be the difference for the Raiders.

Oak Hill led just 7-3 in a bad first quarter for both teams and just 17-16 at the half. But a 15-3 run in the third quarter established a 13-point cushion and the Raiders never let the Cougars get back in it down the stretch.

During the fourth-quarter stretch, seven different Oak Hill players scored and six scored during the third period.

“It was an overall better effort. Defensive intensity was there from the beginning but really picked up in the third quarter,” coach John Bauer said.

“They played a zone and we struggled with our outside shooting again and were a little impatient. The second half we controlled the ball and were able to get the ball inside to our bigs.

“I think they do,” Bauer continued, referring to the growing sense of team cooperation and chemistry. “I told the starters tonight to go out and play hard but have fun doing it.”

Brandon Stevenson led Oak Hill with 15 points while Cooper Hill had 10 and Manning Huffman 8. Jaden Craven added four, Cohen Trolio, Ash Cullum and Lucas Birmingham had three each, Dalton Magers chopped in two and Daniel Harrington had one.

Tony Minor paced Starkville with 16 points, Isaac Buckner had 10, Judah Buckner added four, and Ashton Huxford and Wyatt Johnson got three each.

The Raiders open district play Friday night at home when Marshall Academy comes to town.