E.A. Sports Today

Growing pains

Young Oxford team learning lessons about facing adversity

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Joel Van Meter and the Oxford basketball team spent what some might considered a longer time than usual in the post-game locker room. But the Yellow Jackets had a lot to discuss.

They returned to floor for the first time in a week Saturday against a high-quality athletic opponent and lost 58-42 in the fifth game of the Holiday Hoops Challenge at Jacksonville State.

The time has come in the Oxford program for The Talk, that not-so-subtle reminder to bow up and face adversity head on. The Yellow Jackets only trailed their 7A opponent by one at the end of the first quarter, but a few missed shots and a few makes by Sparkman had the Jackets ultimately looking at a 30-18 halftime deficit.

Sparkman shot 50 percent from the floor in the middle two quarters, while the Jackets struggled through 7 of 24 in the same stretch. The Senators shot 40 percent for the game, while Oxford was 15 of 44.

“It had nothing to do with shooting,” Van Meter said. “It’s called being a mature team who can handle adversity and fight through tough times and compete at a high level — bottom line.

“I’ve got 12 great kids who are just not there yet. They’re fun to be around, but you know going in that it’s going to take them some time to mature and jell together and you just have to be tough enough to fight through it and don’t give in.”

Van Meter has had similar talks with his teams in the past. He even had it with the best team he’s ever had at Oxford, when those players were juniors.

Senior point guard Kaleb Kidd continued to show a spark of consistency for the Jackets. He led all scorers with 15 points. Querriun Moore was the only other Oxford scorer in double figures (10).

“He’s leading us very well; he’s doing what you would expect a senior point guard to do,” Van Meter said. “When you look, who’s the one guy who has tons of varsity experience – Kaleb Kidd; the rest of them don’t. The more we play we hope the more they come through and get it.”

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