E.A. Sports Today

Jackets ready to host

Both Oxford teams play for area championship, right to host subregional, on their own floor Friday night

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — The Oxford Yellow Jackets have been waiting all week, now they know who they’ll play in their respective Class 6A Area 10 championship games Friday night.

Both the boys and girls teams finished in a tie for first place in the area during the regular season and then won a coin flip to earn the right to host the tournament and a pass into the sub-regional. The girls will play Pell City at 6 p.m. and the boys will follow against Chelsea at 7:30.

The Pell City girls pulled away late to beat Chelsea 51-38 Thursday night, while the Chelsea boys nipped Pell City 62-58.

The Oxford boys are 9-18 heading into the game and it has been a struggle for them to keep their heads up. They have played a schedule featuring 16 games against ranked opponents and 23 games against teams with winning records.

“I was really surprised at how tough our schedule turned out this year as so many teams we play are doing very well,” coach Joel Van Meter said.

He has taken on that slate with only one senior starter and two sophomore starters. The Jackets have been in half of those games as they have had to grind against some very good teams almost every night. Flashes of potential have shown up at times and as the season has progressed the players have battled and battled to get better, even though the record may not reflect it.

Consider this gauntlet: three games against 6A No. 9 Albertville (21-4); two against 7A No. 9 Gadsden City (22-5), 5A No. 3 Talladega (27-2) and No. 4 Georgia 4A Carrollton (23-2); and one each against 6A No. 10 Homewood (22-5), 7A No. 3 Mountain Brook (22-6), 7A Sparkman (20-11), 5A No. 6 Shelby County (23-7), 7A No. 5 Hoover (22-6), 1A No. 4 Sacred Heart (21-8), and 4A No. 7 White Plains (22-6).
That’s a record of 252-58 or an average record of 23-5 in the 16 games.

Sophomore’s Querriun Mason and Jakolbie McClendon have had big scoring games in the latter part of the season and will be needed going forward. However, McClendon injured his ankle in practice this week and will miss at least Friday’s game.

The girls, meanwhile, bring an 11-13 record into their game. They have no seniors and starting center Jordan Smith has been nursing an ankle sprain for the last week and her return will be huge for the Lady Jackets if she can make it back.

“Jordan will only play if it is necessary,” coach Tonya Peoples said. “We will have a game next week that we will need her for sure and we want her to be well.”

The inside game of Oxford has evolved during the season with Smith and Ebony Kelley emerging as go-to players down low. Limiting turnovers will be vital for the Jackets as junior Winter Taylor and freshman Tremeria Britt will be handling the ball chores.

Both Oxford teams are guaranteed spots in the Northeast sub-regional. The boys will play either Albertville or Scottsboro. The girls’ winner will host Area 13 runnerup Albertville, while the loser will travel to Area 13 winner Fort Payne.

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