E.A. Sports Today

Go with the flow

Oxford coach VanMeter lets his players natural ability flow, it looked pretty smooth in a 74-52 win over Alexandria; Cubs’ Dodd hurt

Oxford freshman Zondrick Garrett goes hard to the basket against Alexandria. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Oxford freshman Zondrick Garrett goes hard to the basket against Alexandria. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — It’s taken six games for Oxford coach Joel VanMeter to figure out how these Yellow Jackets need to play this season. Judging from the way they flowed Saturday, it’s a pretty good way.

Going with an approach that optimizes the players’ natural ability, VanMeter turned his charges loose in a rare meeting with Alexandria and it produced a 74-52 win in the TV24 Holiday Showcase at Jacksonville State.

“I’ve never had a team offensively flow like that; they’re just playing,” VanMeter said. “The shots that we took are turnovers that we’re making if we’re trying to run this offense. Just go play.

“We figured out what we thought how we needed to play and then offensively we were just sharing the ball. We weren’t thinking ‘what’s coach want me to do?’ I told them if you catch it, you get a good look, jump up and shoot it; we’ll go up and get it. I think that was a product of our offensive efficiency and the flow.”

The flow never looked sharper than at the start of the second quarter when the Yellow Jackets scored the first 14 points to take control of the game. It started with a couple buckets by Braden Mack and Ty Davis off good ball movement and got extended by a couple technical foul shots, but the sharpest play came at the end of it when Mack dove to save a ball on the baseline, Markise Davis collected it in the backcourt and then finished it off with a 3 right in front of Alexandria’s bench.

Where can you draw that stuff up?

“You have this way you want to play as a coach, you have this philosophy,” VanMeter said. “Sometimes that doesn’t fit the team you have every year. That philosophy I have does not fit this team.

“This team needs to run up and down and not think about things. When you’ve got the type of players that we have, with the athletic ability and basketball ability we have, you just have to put them out there in the right spot and just tell them to go play. Go make some plays. Today you saw when they feel confident the ability comes out, and we have some ability.”

The flow produced four double-figure scorers for Oxford. Zondrick Garrett, who looked more like a college freshman on the JSU floor than a high school freshman, had 20 points and five rebounds. Eugene Leonard, the point guard who keeps it flowing, had 19 points. Markise Davis had 14 points and nine rebounds. Mack had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“This feels good,” Garrett said of the way the Jackets are playing.

“It gives us more confidence on the floor to take open shots and shots off a teammate’s pass; it lets us play more freely and together,” Edwards said. “We’ve got good players so let’s go on ahead and play freely. I’m still getting used to it, but I really do like it. I think it’ll help us with tempo and playing together. As long as we still play defense and rebound we should win a whole bunch of games.”

And remember the Yellow Jackets still don’t have Jakolbe McClendon back yet. He’s hopeful of a return later this week, but it might be a tad longer. Imagine this flow with his presence there.

“It’s going to be a whole lot better,” Edwards said. “Kolbe will take so much off all of us. He’s a scorer, a passer, plays defense, he’ll rebound. He’ll help us all out.”

It was a costly loss for the ninth-ranked 5A Valley Cubs (6-1). They may have lost their best player, Dalton Dodd, for an extended period after the junior was helped from the court with a left ankle injury in the second quarter.

He was taken to a local hospital for tests, but X-rays revealed no fracture. He will follow up with doctors next week. It is not immediately known how long he’ll be out of the lineup, but coach Jason Johnson said the Cubs will adjust.

“Oh, it hurts like crazy,” Dodd said. “My teammates are going to be good though. They’re tough players all around and I can’t wait to be back out there with them.”

Oxford 74, Alexandria 52
Markise Davis 6 0-0 14, Simeon Shadrix 2 0-0 4, Caden Higgins 0 0-0 0, Kendrick Foster 1 0-0 2, Eugene Leonard 7 3-6 19, Zondrick Garrett 8 1-2 18, Braden Mack 4 2-5 10, Ty Davis 1 3-6 5. Totals 29 9-19 74.

ALEXANDRIA (6-1) – Devin Grant 2 1-2 5, Chase Smitherman 3 0-1 7, Austin Taylor 3 0-0 9, Jake Weathington 3 0-0 8, Dru Davis 0 2-2 2, Dalton Dodd 1 0-0 2, Romeo Dye 2 0-0 5, Thorne Thorton 0 0-0 0, Jamal Tucker 2 0-2 5, Josh Tucker 2 5-6 9. Totals 18 8-13 52.

Oxford 22 22 16 14 — 74
Alexandria 15 13 9 15 — 52

3-point goals: Oxford 7 (Garrett 3, Leonard 2, Davis 2); Alexandria 8 (Smitherman, Taylor 3, Weathington 2, Dye, Ja. Tucker). Technical fouls: Johnson. Fouled out: Smitherman, Davis. Total fouls: Oxford 8, Alexandria 17. Officials: Howell, Battles, Ortiz.

Alexandria's Dalton Dodd (21) jumps to disrupt Markise Davis' drive on the baseline. Dodd later left the game with an ankle injury. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Alexandria’s Dalton Dodd (21) jumps to disrupt Markise Davis’ drive on the baseline. Dodd later left the game with ankle injury. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

On the cover, Zondrick Garrett gets the flow going for Oxford’s offense. To see a gallery of B.J. Franklin’s photos from Saturday’s games at JSU visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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