E.A. Sports Today

Oxford gets ‘huge’ road win

Switch to seldom-used defense in second half changes momentum against Fort Payne; Moore’s free throws and stop seal victory

By East Alabama Sports Today

FORT PAYNE – Oxford basketball coach Joel VanMeter was pulling out everything he could think of to keep his team in Monday night’s game. Finally, he plugged in a defense the Yellow Jackets haven’t played much and it “changed the momentum.”

Turning to a rarely used defense VanMeter picked up from an SEC coaching buddy, the Jackets went to a half-court 2-2-1. It succeeded in creating turnovers they turned into baskets and made a long ride home a lot more enjoyable after a 53-52 win over Fort Payne.

“We played horrible the first half and went to a different defense we’ve done a very small amount and it changed the momentum for us late in the third, early in the fourth,” VanMeter said. “We were playing man in our half-court zone that wasn’t working at all.
“Every press didn’t work. Every half-court (defense) didn’t work. There wasn’t much left after that. We went to the ‘22’ and got some hands on the ball. They didn’t feel good playing against it. We got some turnovers and easy baskets for us.”

When VanMeter says the Jackets weren’t playing well in the first half, he wasn’t kidding. They hit only three of 20 two-point shot attempts with numerous layups included in the misses.

The Jackets won it in the final minute. Jalen Moore hit a game-tying 3-pointer and then hit two free throws in the final 30 seconds to put them ahead.

The Wildcats had one last chance to win it, but Moore took away their back cut and forced Wayna King to put up a contested 30 footer that missed the mark.

King led all scorers with 28 points, but had only 10 in the second half. Braden Jones led Oxford with 17. Jakolbie McClendon had 11. Moore finished with eight.

The win opens a week of three straight road games for the Jackets. They play at Southside today, then go to Chelsea for their first area game Friday. They were to have played Jacksonville Saturday, but the teams agreed to move that game to Feb. 1.

“This was a huge win for us,” VanMeter said. “I told them at halftime this is going to be one of two things: It’s going to be a downward spiral as a team because we didn’t show up ready to play and didn’t do what we needed to do and laid an egg or it’s going to be a rocket ship taking off because we’d come back the second half and won.”

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