E.A. Sports Today

Jackets buzz into final

Freshman has another big game on JSU’s floor, leading Oxford into the boys county tournament championship game

Oxford freshman Zondrick Garrett had another big game on the JSU floor. (Photo by Dave Brandsma)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Sometimes Oxford point guard Eugene Leonard has to remind himself Zondrick Garrett is only a freshman going through some of the same growing pains he did just one year ago.

Garrett looked like a freshman Friday at Pete Mathews Coliseum, but the kind that plays on the floor for the building’s regular tenants, not a high school ninth-grader.

But there he was, a 14-year-old running the floor, dunking the ball and generally being a force like someone who’s been there a while as the second-seeded Yellow Jackets beat long-time if former rival Anniston 67-41.

Garrett scored 19 points and did numerous other good things as the Jackets advanced to the Calhoun County Tournament final for the first time since 2012, which just happened to be the last time they played Anniston in basketball. They will play top-seeded and top-ranked Sacred Heart for their first time since 2013 Saturday at 8 p.m.

“Z, he’s growing; he’s going to be probably one of the best players in the state when he graduates,” Leonard said. “He surprises me with some of the stuff he does because he looks like hes been here for a long time, like he’s a senior or a junior. He’ll tell me before the game he has a little butterflies, but he’ll still come out and play like he’s a senior or a junior.”

Garrett was strong from the start, just as his team was. He scored the last two baskets of the first quarter to extend Oxford’s lead to 19-10. It’s at least the third game he’s played on the floor this season and he’s never failed to respond.

He had eight easy points in Thursday’s win over Ohatchee and 20 points against Alexandria the first time he played on the floor in the TV24 Holiday Showcase.

“I’m very comfortable,” Garrett said. “I don’t get intimidated. There’s nothing to be afraid about. Just …. play.”

It would have been interesting to see Garrett battle against Sacred Heart’s Diante Wood in tonight’s championship game, an up-and-coming star vs. an established Division I prospect. But the Cardinals’ junior will be unavailable after his ejection from their semifinal win over White Plains.

“Trust me, those two guards (D.J. Heath and Kevion Nolan) and the rest of those guys, they’re going to be ready to play; that’s not going to bother them one bit,” Oxford coach Joel VanMeter said. “They’ve played a bunch of games without a bunch of guys and they competed, so that doesn’t bother me one bit at all. I think it’ll probably give them a little more juice.”

The Yellow Jackets had the juice Friday. They were in control of the game from the start. They led 38-16 at halftime.

“I thought we were real sharp,” Van Meter said. “I think we were sharp defensively and I thought we were pretty sharp offensively. It’s taken us a while to figure out what we have.”

Oxford 67, Anniston 41
Marrio Dobbins 2 2-8 6, Jamaree West 1 0-0 3, James Haynes 2 1-2 6, Jimmy Felton 0 0-0 0, Jakoey Bradford 2 0-0 5, Diondric Harvey 2 2-6 6, Hunter Rouse 1 0-0 2, Stedman Orr 0 0-2 0, Dontavious Davis 2 0-0 4, Chance Young 2 0-1 4, Joetavious Embry 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 5-19 41.

OXFORD (14-8) – Markise Davis 1 0-0 3, Simeon Shadrix 0 0-0 0, Jakolbe McClendon 2 0-2 4, Caden Higgins 0 0-0 0, Kendrick Foster 2 1-2 6, Eugene Leonard 5 2-3 13, Zondrick Garrett 7 5-10 19, Braden Mack 4 5-6 13, Ty Davis 4 1-1 9. Totals 25 14-24 67.

Anniston 10 6 17 8 — 41
Oxford 19 19 15 14 — 67

3-point goals: Anniston 4 (West, Haynes 2, Bradford); Oxford 3 (M. Davis, Foster, Leonard). Fouled out: Foster. Total fouls: Anniston 21, Oxford 17. Officials: Corley, Langford, Wood.

Oxford’s Eugene Leonard (12) and Jakolbe McClendon make it difficult for Anniston’s Marrio Dobbins to get off his shot. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

On the cover: Calhoun County Tournament administrators placed Friday night’s paid attendance at 2,500.

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the Calhoun County Tournament, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com
To see more Dave Brandsma photos from the Calhoun County Tournament, visit www.camerainnandbikes.com

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