E.A. Sports Today

Pulling away

Oxford silences crowd, pulls away from White Plains in second half; Ware gets his first win with Faith Christian

Justin Moore gave followers of Oxford basketball the kind of second half Monday they have come to expect from him. On the cover, leading scorer Rylan Houck keeps the balll away from White Plains’ Walker O’Steen. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Joel VanMeter has long thought of White Plains as one of the toughest places to play in Calhoun County. The Yellow Jackets were locked into another tight battle in the first half Monday night and the crowd, even at half capacity because of COVID-19, was in full throat.

The Jackets silenced the crowd and eventually took it out of it altogether with a big second half that carried them to a 65-46 victory.

They trailed at the end of the first quarter and It was a one-point game at halftime, but the Jackets ramped up their defense in the second half and outscored their hosts 37-19.

“Our team this year, and in most years, it’s built around our defense with me,” said Van Meter, the Oxford coach. “And it’s a different kind of defense – it’s full court.

“I told them we have to guard the way that we’re trying to guard. I think our energy was a little bit better and it is a little bit better whenever you scorer baskets. They did a great job of guarding us and taking some things away and then guys figured out how to be able to go score a little bit.”

One of those guys was Justin Moore. The senior didn’t have the best season opener, but he had the type of second half Monday the Jackets were waiting to see from him. Held to just two points in the opener, he went for 14 against the Wildcats, getting to his game ,as VanMeter likes to say, in the second half with 10.

“I wouldn’t say I played bad, I just wasn’t hitting shots, so I just came in here to hit shots and make up for it,” Moore said. “I just felt like I came out (in the opener) and put too much pressure on myself, but if we can win with me having two points, we’re good. (VanMeter) came in here (at halftime) and told me just play how everybody knows I can play, so I came out aggressive and it took off from there.”

“I think Justin has been trying to figure out how he can score, and I think finally (he did) there in the second half,” VanMeter said. “His best attribute that we’ve always talked about is his mid-range jump shot. What he did was he got to it. He didn’t play with the ball. He put his head down and got to his mid-range and he’s so athletic he can just raise up and shoot over top of you. They were contested and he just made them.

“We’re playing a different way offensively, so it takes guys a little while to figure out where they can get it. I do a terrible job of being patient. I think he’s a great player and I want to see him go make all the plays. It’s taken him a little while to figure that out.”

Jacob Wheeler’s 3-pointer right before the horn capped what turned out to be a 10-0 run that carried into the second quarter and put White Plains ahead. 17-14. Moore stopped the bleeding with a dunk a minute into the second quarter and it stayed tight the rest of the half.

The second half was a completely different story. Kyler Wright got the half started with a 3-pointer. Oxford had a 33-31 lead when it went on a 10-1 run to take control. The big play came early in the run when Rylan Houck blocked a shot, saved it from going out of bounds and then got it back to bury a deep 3-pointer that made it 37-31 with 4:59 left in the quarter. Houck led all scorers with 23 points.

A series of turnovers helped the Jackets extend the lead to 12 by quarter’s end. Another 13-2 run made it a 25-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

“Their ball pressure was the difference in the game,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “We’ve got to get used to playing against that kind of pressure. We cracked. The first time a defensive team like that smells the least bit of fear then it’s over. The pressure went from an 8 to a 9 to a 10 when they smelled it.”

Oxford 65, White Plains 46
OXFORD (2-0) –
Avelon Bush 3 0-0 8, Cordell Chatman 2 3-7 8, Rylan Houck 9 2-2 23, Peyton Watts 1 0-0 3, Mike McGraw 0 0-0 0, Kyler Wright 3 0-0 8, Justin Moore 7 0-4 14, Aaron McFarland 1 0-0 3, Jadarrian Jones 0 0-0 0, Zurrell Garrett 0 0-0 0, Jarek Burroughs 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 5-13 65.

WHITE PLAINS (0-1) –Tucker Person 1 0-0 3, Carson Wright 0 0-0 0, Quin Wilson 2 3-3 8, Jaden Chatman 0 5-6 5, Jacob Wheeler 6 0-0 15, Landon Senciboy 0 0-0 0, Brody Baker 2 0-0 5, Jesse Hubbard 0 0-0 0, Walker O’Steen 3 0-2 6, Garrett Wilson 1 2-4 4. Totals 15 10-15 46.

Oxford                  14  14 19  18  –  65
White Plains       17  10 8    11  –  46

3-point goals: Oxford 8 (Bush, Chatman, Houck 3, Watts, Wright, McFarland); White Plains 6 (Pearson, Q. Wilson, Wheeler 3, Baker). Rebounds: Oxford 26 (Houck 9, Wright 5); White Plains 11 (Jaden Chatman 4). Total fouls: Oxford 18, White Plains 16.

Faith Christian 59, Cleburne County 40

You can’t win 422 until you win the first one and Faith Christian coach Schuessler Ware scored his first victory with his new team. Ware won 422 games in 19 years at Anniston before retiring after the 2016 season. He’s now 1-1 since coming out of retirement.

“It feels great (to get the first win),” Ware said. “I really feel like they will continue to grow and buy into the program. I’m very proud of the guys tonight.”

The Lions opened a 19-point halftime lead and by 13 going into the fourth quarter, but unlike the season opener when they lost a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, they stretched the lead in the fourth.

Ethan Richerzhagen led the Lions with 21 points; he scored 16 in the first half. Thomas Curlee had 19 points, 15 in the first half. The Lions hit all five of their 3-pointers in the first half.

Kyle Downey led Cleburne County with 12 points.

Faith Christian 59, Cleburne County 40
Rico Jordan 2 0-0 4, Ben Casey 2 0-0 5, Brody Higgins 0 0-0 0, Kyle Downey 5 0-1 12, Manny Rollins 2 0-0 4, Hudson Miller 2 0-0 4, Grant Harcrow 0 0-0 0, Trey Brown 1 3-4 5, Dee Prothro 3 0-0 6, Aleick Whatley 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 3-5 40.
FAITH CHRISTIAN (1-1) – Nic Goodgame 3 3-5 9, Jacques Prater 2 2-6 8, Thomas Curlee 7 3-4 19, Ethan Richerzhagen 5 10-13 21, Colton Pahman 0 1-2 1, Damian Arevalo 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 20-32 59.

Cleburne County                 14   9    13   4   –  40
Faith Christian                     18  24  7    10  –  59

3-point goals: Cleburne County 3 (Casey, Downey 2); Faith Christian 5 (Prater 2, Curlee 2, Richezhagen). Fouled out: Miller. Total fouls: Cleburne County 23, Faith Christian 14. Officials: Oden, McCombs, Roberts.

White Plains guard Quin Wilson (5) looks to get past Oxford’s Rylan Houck. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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