E.A. Sports Today

Record low

Parker exposes Oxford’s weaknesses with tight defense, holds Yellow Jackets to 25 points, tying all-time Northeast Regional record

6A Northeast Regional MVP Xavier Williams (10) and two of his Parker teammates converge on Oxford guard Eugene Leonard. It was that kind of defense that had the Yellow Jackets frustrated all night. (Photo by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Oxford has a basketball team that relies on rhythm to get its offense moving, but Tuesday night Parker turned off the music.

The Yellow Jackets were stifled like never before this season in the Class 6A Northeast Regional final and denied their first-ever trip to Birmingham and the Final Four.

The Thundering Herd held them to a season-low 25 points — six in the second half — tying the regional record across all classifications and without a field goal in the final 13 minutes of the game in a 60-25 loss at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.

The Herd (28-7) will now play South champion Spanish Fort in the Class 6A semifinals in Birmingham next week.

“They exposed all of our weakness and capitalized on those,” Oxford coach Joel Van Meter said. “Every team has its weaknesses. Ours has been playing a half-court game. When you don’t have the opportunities in transition and some open floor opportunities to get you going and then you kind of build off that, they took all of that away.

“There was not one opportunity that you had and when you did get free Xavier Williams, who is really good, challenged everything at the rim and made it tough to score over top of him.”

Williams, the tournament MVP, scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots. Teammate Cam’Ron Beard led all scorers with 17 points.

The Yellow Jackets (24-11) were aggressive early in the game and played the Herd even for the first six and a half minutes. But that aggression soon turned into foul trouble for their core players and that, in turn, messed up their rhythm.

Those fouls sent Parker to the free throw line and the Herd seemingly couldn’t miss. They were 14-of-17 from the line in the first half, with Beard going 10-for-12. The Jackets were 4-of-10 as a team in the half. They trailed 38-19 at the break.

“The way that they played defensively took every one of our guys out of rhythm,” VanMeter said. “And it was all them. There wasn’t anything we did bad. I think they took all the rhythm away from us between foul trouble and contested shots at the rim and I just think we never were able to kind of get it going.”

Oxford’s two all-tournament picks, Jakolbe McClendon and Braden Mack, made two baskets in the first three minutes of the third quarter, but they would be the last buckets the Jackets would get in the game. They were 0-for-9 from the field in the final 13 minutes.

Their only other points in the half came on two free throws by Kendrick Foster with 7:48 left in the game.

The 25 points tie the fewest by a boys team in any classification in the history of Northeast Regional. They were the fewest in the 6A Northeast Regional since Vestavia Hills was held to 25 by Gadsden City in the 2007 semifinals and the fewest in a Northeast Regional final since Mountain Brook’s 28 against Huffman in the 2005 title game.

The Jackets’ previous low in points this year was 48 against Grissom and Southside during a four-game stretch in which they suffered three losses all scoring less than 50. They had 26 in a regular-season loss to Homewood last year.

“We played against people like that but never had to try to work hard (to create points),” Mack said. “It was frustrating. We usually have four or five people in double digits and it’s very frustrating when you can’t get a shot up.”

Oxford’s Jakolbe McClendon tries to drive past Parker’s Algie Surrell. McClendon and Braden Mack (below) were Oxford picks on the all-tournament team. (Photos by Greg Warren)

Parker 60, Oxford 25
PARKER (28-7) –
CamRon Beard 3-7 10-12 17, Algie Surrell 2-3 0-0 4, Xavier Williams 5-10 4-4 15, Eugene Minter 0-4 0-0 0, Jason King 6-7 1-1 13, Tariq Colvin 0-1 1-2 1, Taurus Bell 0-0 0-0 0, Zachary Webb 0-0 0-0 0, Kamaron Owens 0-0 2-2 2, Isiah Anthony 3-5 0-0 6, Cortez Lowe 0-0 0-0 0, JahShawn Banks 1-2 0-0 2, Phidarius Pittman 0-1 0-0 0, Tavaris Bell 0-0 0-0 0, Jamarcus June 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-40 18-21 60.

OXFORD (24-11) – Markise Davis 1-5 0-0 3, Jakolbe McClendon 2-6 2-2 6, Eugene Leonard 2-7 1-2 5, Zondrick Garrett 1-3 1-6 3, Braden Mack 2-3 0-0 4, Simeon Shadrix 0-1 0-0 0, Caden Higgins 0-0 0-2 0, Denico Tanner 0-1 0-0 0, Kendrick Foster 0-2 2-2 2, Cedrekous Lauderdale 0-1 0-0 0, Rokafewlloa Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Ty Davis 1-3 0-0 0, Demontre McClendon 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 9-34 6-14 25.

Parker 14 24 14 8 — 60
Oxford 9 10 4 2 — 25

3-point goals: Parker 2-3 (Beard 1-2, Williams 1-1); Oxford 1-12 (M. Davis 1-3, J. McClendon 0-2, Leonard 0-2, Garrett 0-1, Foster 0-1, Lauderdale 0-1, D. McClendon 0-2). Rebounds: Parker 32 (Williams 9, Beard 7); Oxford 18 (Mack 5). Total fouls: Parker 17, Oxford 20. Officials: Gerrell Debardelaben, Bill Young, Terry Anthony.

Cover photo by Dave Brandsma. To see more of Dave’s images from the game visit www.camerainnandbikes.com

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