E.A. Sports Today

Just like dad

Just an eighth-grader, Oxford’s Perry meets his moment with buzzer-beating 3-pointer to clinch right for Yellow Jackets to host area tourney

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Marcus Perry’s many shooting sessions with his dad had him ready when his first big moment arrived, and mark it down. 

The son of an Anniston High basketball legend is an Oxford High legend in his own right, as an eighth-grader.

Seeing extended minutes because junior T.J. Allen was out with COVID-19, and with his parents watching from the stands, Perry sank a corner-ball 3-pointer at the buzzer to complete the Yellow Jackets’ comeback from a 12-point deficit to beat Gadsden City on Friday.

The victory clinched Oxford’s position as top seed and host for the Class 6A, Area 13 tournament and Oxford coach Joel Van Meter’s astonished laugh while describing the game-winning play, which he called during a timeout with 6.3 seconds left.

‘Deshaun Calloway catches (the inbounds pass), hard drive and makes the play that he’s supposed to make and then an eighth-grader puts one in the goal,” Van Meter said.

The winning bucket accounted for Perry’s three points on the night. The final game book didn’t track shooting from the field, but he was 0-for-2 from the foul line.

Then came his moment, a play call that set him up and gave him a wide-open look. Caleb Sanders inbounded from the opposite corner, initially looking for Jayden Lewis, coming down the lane off of a Jaylen Alexander up screen. Gadsden City had Lewis covered, so Sanders inbounded to Calloway, who drove the lane from the top and passed to a wide-open Perry in the corner.

“I’m a shooter, and I was just thinking in my head to be confident and shoot it, because I didn’t really hit any shots the whole game,” Perry said.

His dad, the Marcus Perry who starred on Anniston’s 2002 state championship team, saw everything he and his son drill together.

“As the play was developing, I saw he had his footwork right,” the elder Perry said. “I was like, man, in my eyes, because we stay in the gym, I was like, ‘Man, that’s going in.’”

The elder Marcus works with his son and daughter, Anniston’s A’Kayla Perry, at Anniston’s Miller Gym.

“We all live in the gym, and that’s how I made it, just putting the work in, even after practice, and just shoot,” he said. “Just shoot, repetition, repetition, repetition, keeping the same form over and over and over.

“And he loves staying in the gym.”

The dramatic shot lifted an Oxford team that was down two starters. Besides Allen, Oxford lost senior Brock Reaves for the rest of the season to a broken jaw in last week’s Calhoun County quarterfinal against Faith Christian.

Reaves made a ceremonial start on Senior Night, catching a prearranged jump ball, tipped by Jayden Lewis, then rolling it out of bounds. Reaves got hand slaps and hugs from teammates and a Van Meter fist bump on the way back to the bench.

Oxford seemed fine without Reaves and Allen, leading 25-22 at halftime, but Gadsden City forced five turnovers on the way to a 15-0 run and a 37-25 lead. A Calloway jumper at 2:20 gave Oxford its first points of the third quarter.

Oxford had the lead back down to 38-31 by third quarter’s end, but a Steven Jones 3 pushed the Titans back out to a 45-34 lead.

Alexander, who led Oxford with 20 points on four field goals and 10-for-12 free-throw shooting, resurrected hope with a 3 to make it 45-38, and Oxford chipped away at the lead.

A Sanders 3 cut it to 53-51 with 20.5 seconds left.

After an Oxford timeout and Alexander foul, Javien McCants missed the front end of the bonus, setting up the final sequence.

Oxford called timeout at 14.6 seconds then again at 6.3 seconds, after Alexander got trapped in the corner.

Asked what his dad would say, the younger Marcus Perry said he didn’t know.

“I think he’d just be happy for me,” he said. “He’d say that’s what I was made to do.”

GADSDEN CITY – Steven Jones 5 2-2 16, Kahlil Hughley 1 0-0 2, Jordan Walker 2 2-5 6, Curry 1 0-0 2, Javien McCants 0 0-2 0, Gran 0 3-4 3, Jakobi Sharp 3 5-7 12, Qwon Bridges 5 1-2 11. Totals 16 1-2 53.
OXFORD – Jaylen Alexander 4 10-12 20, Caleb Sanders 1 0-0 3, Dashaun Calloway 6 3-4 15, Brock Reaves 0 0-0 0, Jordan Kelley 1 1-2 3, Jayden Lewis 0 7-12 7, Marcus Perry 1 0-2 3, Cristian Gibson 0 1-2 1, Elijah Malone 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 22-34 54.
Gadsden City     15        7           16        15 –     43
Oxford         11        14         6       23 –     54
3-point goals: Gadsden City 3 (Jones 2, Sharp); Oxford 4 (Perry, Sanders, Alexander 2). Total fouls: Gadsden City 20, Oxford 18. Officials: Jarrett, Holloway, Kelley.

Cover photo: Oxford teammates swarm Marcus Perry after he hit the game-winning 3-pointer to beat Gadsden City on Friday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login