E.A. Sports Today

Taylor-Made triumph

Oxford freshman scores game-winning layup against Alexandria; second-half woes doom White Plains, Talladega TV24 Holiday Showcase

Eugene Leonard (R) and Dalton Dodd were the headline players in the Oxford-Alexandria game at JSU Saturday. Leonard scored 22 points and took six charges in the Yellow Jackets’ 60-58 win. Dodd had a 3-point shot at the buzzer to win it. On the cover, Oxford’s Markise Davis (1) and Alexandria’s Josh Tucker jockey for position on a rebound. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Joel Van Meter could tell three years ago Rokafewlloa Taylor was going to be an impact player on his Oxford basketball team and it had nothing to do with the unusual way the forward spells his name.

Taylor – it’s pronounced Rockafellow — has become a regular in the Yellow Jackets’ lineup this year and has been everything Van Meter thought he’d be.

In the closing seconds Saturday night, 6-foot-3½ freshman Taylor took the ball, drove to the basket and scored a layup that proved the difference in Oxford’s 60-58 victory over Alexandria in the marquee game of an abbreviated TV24 Holiday Showcase at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

To see a photo gallery from all three games of the TV24 Holiday Showcase, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

“We’re right there of winning three or four games that we lost early when he’s not on the floor and we’ve won four straight now,” Van Meter said. “He gives us another good player on the floor who can score, who rebounds the ball, finishes balls at the rim.

“I’ve known for three years he’s gonna be a good player. I didn’t know how good he’d be this year coming from football, but he stepped right in.”

In his first game, Taylor scored eight points against Ramsay without even practicing. He has scored in double figures every game since. He went for 16 points and nine rebounds the last time out against Southside.

His layup with eight seconds left broke a 58-58 tie and gave him with 12 points in the game. The basket put the finishing touches on a brilliant fourth-quarter battle between Oxford’s Eugene Leonard and Alexandria’s Jake Weathington.

Leonard scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the quarter and Weathington had nine of his 19 in it.

“Jake really came through for us,” Valley Cubs coach Jason Johnson said. “He was more aggressive tonight.”

“The difference in the game was Eugene goes for 22 points and probably took six charges; he was the difference in the game,” Van Meter said. “It was one of those games like you say he willed you to a win; that’s what he did. Rock made a huge play at the end and we had some good balanced scoring, but at the end of the day (Leonard’s) taking charges … doing what he does, and that’s the difference in the game.”

Alexandria (5-1) got behind early and fought back all night. The Valley Cubs’ only lead was at 2-0 but they caught the Jackets at 58-58 with 30 seconds left on Landon Williams’ three-point play. They had a final shot to win, but Dalton Dodd’s 3-point shot at the buzzer, coming off a ball screen and contested by Markise Davis and Leonard, fell short.

It was all guard play for Oxford in the first half as the Jackets got 19 points from Leonard and Kendrick Foster. Foster scored hits straight points to end an 11-point run that gave the Jackets (4-4) a 30-19 lead. The run coincided with a full-court press that created five Alexandria turnovers in the second quarter.

The Valley Cubs used their height advantage in the third quarter to chop Oxford’s lead to 42-37. Williams was blocking shots and controlling the boards while scoring six points in the quarter. Dodd was hitting the boards as well; he ended up with 11 rebounds to go with 13 points.

“They’re hard to score against,” Van Meter said. “If you’re going to beat them you’d better make a bunch of jump shots. Their size is hard to score over.”

But in the end it was layup from a guy Alexandria wanted to take it that got the Yellow Jackets the decisive points they needed.

“We thought by the way they were guarding Rock that we thought he could drive it to the basket and he did,” Van Meter said. ”It was players just making plays.” – Brant Locklier

White Plains’ Gavin Burrage looks for an open man to escape the trap of Section’s Andrew Davis (10) and Austin Reed (22). (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Section 56, White Plains 48: The power went off in Jax State’s gym early in the first quarter. It came back on about 45 minutes later and White Plains seemed little affected, but the juice went out again on the Wildcats in the second half and they could never flip the switch back.

The Wildcats (4-3) had things going their way in the first half, but couldn’t close the deal. They led by nine at halftime and by five at the end of three quarters. They were up 12 after Drake Preston’s 3-pointer midway through the third when things went south.

The Lions (4-3) took the lead with an 18-0 run that lasted into the first three minutes of the fourth and was capped by two 3-pointers and a three-point play.

They sealed it late in the fourth on back-to-back possessions where the Wildcats missed a shot and then fouled on the rebound. The first exchange produced a pair of free throws by Trevor Gentry that took the lead to five. The second produced a free throw by Gentry and a rebound on the missed second shot that led to a kick-out 3-pointer by Roderic Branford with 2:00 to play.

“We’ve got to find a way to finish games,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “That’s been the story the last couple of weeks, even in a couple wins, an inability to finish strong. We’ve got to figure out how to get our guys to finish games with poise and confidence.

“They shot themselves back into it, but I felt like they were trying to shoot themselves back out of it with some deep 3s and we couldn’t clean up a rebound.”

Austin Reed led Section with 16 points. Gentry had 14 points and Branford had 12 on four 3-pointers. The Lions made more free throws (15) than White Plains had attempts from the line (12). Matthew Clay led the Wildcats with 16 points. – Al Muskewitz

Plainview’s Koby Tinker puts up another of the Bears’ 3-pointers in front of Talladega guard Chance Beavers (3) and Tigers coach Chucky Miller. The Bears hit 13 treys in their 89-77 win. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Plainview 89, Talladega 77: Tigers coach Chucky Miller watched from the wings the way Plainview picked apart Sacred Heart with its long-range shooting Thursday night. He got an up close and more personal look at it Saturday.

The Bears (8-0) hit nine of their 13 3-pointers in the second half to rally from a 10-point halftime deficit for their second win in Calhoun County in three days. Caden Millican and Koby Tinker hit four each in the game.

The Tigers (6-2) used strong defense in the first half to grab a 37-27 lead, but foul trouble and 5-of-19 shooting in the third quarter started their downfall.

The Bears scored 62 points in the second half. They were 30-of-40 from the free throw line in the game, 21 of 25 in the second half. Millican hit three of his 3-pointers in the third quarter and Tinker scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. They were 11 of 11 from the line in the second half.

Ashton Duncan led Talladega with 22 points and seven assists. Chaztin Tanner had 14 points, Fred Dickerson had 12 (all in the first half) and Jay Patterson knocked down 10.

The Bears have now hit 119 3-pointers in eight games. They had 19 in the Sacred Heart game and a state-record 25 in a win over North Sand Mountain earlier this year.

They go for their third win in Calhoun County in a week when they play at Oxford Tuesday night.

Alexandria’s Dru Davis goes in for a layup after getting past Oxford’s Eugene Leonard (12). Cubs teammate Landon Williams (33) eagerly awaits the result of the play. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)


Section 56, White Plains 48
Coleman Messer 3 0-2 6, Houston Conger 0 2-2 2, Chase Helms 2 0-1 5, Pierson Branham 1 0-0 2, Austin Bussey 0 1-2 1, Drake Preston 4 0-0 9, Matthew Clay 5 2-4 15, Jaden Harris 0 0-0 0, Ethan Bozarth 0 0-0 0, Gavin Burrage 3 1-1 7. Totals 18 6-12 48.

SECTION (4-3) – Bryson Woodall 3 2-6 8, Roderic Branford 4 0-0 12, Jacob Gentry 1 1-2 3, Wiley McCutchen 0 0-0 0, Andrew Davis 1 0-0 3, Austin Reed 5 4-6 16, Trevor Gentry 3 8-10 14, Marty Patterson 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 15-24 56.

White Plains 14 17 8 9 — 48
Section 8 14 12 22 — 56

3-point goals: White Plains (Helms, Preston, Clay 4); Section 7 (Branford 4, Davis, Reed 2). Total fouls: White Plains 18, Section 16. Officials: Howell, Burroughs, Hollingsworth.

Plainview 89, Talladega 77
Haden White 2 2-4 8, Caden Millican 6 8-9 24, Bailey Dukes 2 4-5 9, Jeffery Armstrong 4 3-4 12, Cade Willingham 0 3-5 3, Clay Cooper 2 3-6 8, Koby Tinker 7 7-7 25. Totals 23 30-40 89.

TALLADEGA (6-2) – Fred Dickerson 5 0-1 12, Chance Beavers 2 0-0 4, Chaztin Tanner 6 0-1 14, Tyrese Scales 0 0-2 0, Ashton Duncan 5 10-12 22, jay Patterson 4 2-2 10, J.Q. Wilson 3 1-3 7, Kobe Simmons 1 0-0 2, TraShaundez Bolden 3 0-0 6. Totals 29 13-21 77.

Plainview 8 19 33 29 — 89
Talladega 16 21 15 25 — 77

3-point goals: Plainview 13 (White 2, Millican 4, Dukes, Armstrong, Cooper, Tinker 4); Talladega 6 (Dickerson 2, Tanner 2, Duncan 2). Technical fouls: Dickerson, Bolden, Simmons. Fouled out: White, Dickerson, Bolden. Total fouls: Plainview 21, Talladega 33. Officials: Calkins, Cosby, Kelley.

Oxford 60, Alexandria 58
Joe Tucker 2 0-0 4, Adam Young 2 0-1 4, Jake Weathington 6 3-3 15, Dru Davis 2 0-1 4, Dalton Dodd 4 4-6 14, Jalen Borders 1 1-2 3, Landon Williams 5 3-3 13, Grayson Chaffin 0 0-0 0, Romeo Dye 0 0-0 0, Jared Bonder 0 0-0 0, Josh Tucker 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 11-16 58.

OXFORD (4-4) – Markise Davis 2 0-0 4, Simeon Shadrix 1 0-0 3, Mont McClendon 0 0-0 0, Rockafellow Taylor 6 0-0 12, Kendrick Foster 5 0-0 11, Eugene Leonard 7 6-8 22, Kolby Warren 0 0-2 0, Braden Mack 5 0-0 10. Totals 26 6-8 60.

Alexandria 13 10 14 21 — 58
Oxford 13 17 12 18 — 60

3-point goals: Alexandria 3 (Dodd 2, Weathington); Oxford 4 (Shadrix Foster, Leonard 2). Rebounds: Alexandria 27 (Dodd 11, Williams 8); Oxford 23 (Davis 8). Total fouls: Alexandria 16, Oxford 17. Officials: Chambers, Howell, Hollingsworth.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login