E.A. Sports Today

Prep basketball

Defense, Alexander’s key fourth-quarter 3-pointer get short-handed Oxford past senior-laden White Plains. White Plains’ girls hustle in first game under Sprayberry, but Oxford rolls

Cover photo: Oxford’s Jaylen Alexander attempts to drive against White Plains’ on Tuesday at Oxford. The Yellow Jackets won, 44-37. (Photo by Mike Lett/Lettsfocus.smugmug.com)

Tuesday scoreboard

Oxford 44, White Plains 37
Jax Christian 75,GSD 32
Gaston 57, Saks 51
Springville 70, Jacksonville 64
Oxford 56, White Plains 18
Jax Christian 73, GSD 7
Anniston 51, Central-Clay 19
Saks 37, Gaston 34
Springville 68, Jacksonville 36

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Writer

OXFORD — Jaylen Alexander wears No. 0 on his Oxford basketball jersey, but everyone knows his number when the Yellow Jackets need a big shot.

One, as in the first option.

Alexander’s 3-pointer with 3:46 to play gave Oxford a five-point lead on White Plains, and the Yellow Jackets’ defense made it stand up for a 44-37 victory in an entertaining early season game between upper echelon Calhoun County teams.

Oxford improved to 2-1 while awaiting two football players, center and 2023 Calhoun County Tournament MVP Jayden Lewis and combo guard Elijah Malone. The football team plays its second-round playoff game Friday at Parker.

“I love our team,” Oxford coach Joel Van Meter said. “We’re still young. We’ve got to figure some things out in terms of how we approach some things, and we’ve got to figure some things out, in terms of when people guard us a certain way, like they did. 

“We’ve got to figure out what happens, when we don’t make threes, because we’re not very big.”

White Plains lost its opener, but the Class 4A Wildcats answered when Class 6A Oxford scored the game’s first nine points and the first seven points of the third quarter. White Plains trailed 11-9 at the end of the first quarter, led 21-20 at halftime and trailed 35-33 going into the fourth quarter.

“I love the way our guys responded to adversity,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “When you’re playing eight seniors, you should expect that. 

“We didn’t get rattled, and we settled in, but we practice five against seven and five against eight. I don’t care. You cannot simulate their speed and quickness, defensively.”

Oxford held White Plains to one fourth-quarter field goal, Dylan Barksdales pullup shot after intercepting an Oxford pass near midcourt to bring the Wildcats within 42-37 with a minute left.

Oxford’s defensive success included switch from man-to-man to a matchup zone. Van Meter made the change during a timeout at 3:46, right after Alexander’s 3-pointer made it 40-35.

‘It’s kind of our pressure back into ‘fist’, which is our zone,” Van Meter said. “It gives people a little bit of a different look. It kind of guards a little bit different. I think, sometimes, when people see it, they don’t know what they’re looking at.”

White Plains packed in its defense and made Oxford shoot threes. Alexander hit three on the way to 22 points. T.J. Allen made two en route to 10 points, and Marcus Perry Jr. made one during a 10-point performance.

None was bigger than Alexander’s fourth-quarter three, which gave Oxford all of the separation it needed on a night when defense ruled.

“They kept going under ball screens, and I was missing shots all night,” Alexander said. “It was an off night for me, I feel like, but big-time players make big-time plays. I can’t just not shoot it.

“I came wide open, and coach always tells me to shoot the ball if I’m wide open.”

Josh Wheeler hit three 3-pointers, two on consecutive third-quarter possessions to keep White Plains in the game.

“We showed a lot of grit,” Wheeler said. “We showed that we can hang with some of the best teams.”

Oxford’s Jordyn McRae shoots a jumper against White Plains on Tuesday at Oxford. (Photo by MIke Lett/Let’s focus.smugmug.com)


OXFORD 56, WHITE PLAINS 18: Xai Whitfield, fresh off of signing last week to play for Tennessee State University, hit two 3-pointers en route to 19 points, and Oxford improved to 2-0.

Bri Wilson added 13 points.

“White Plains played extremely hard,” Oxford coach Melissa Bennett said. “They rebounded extremely well. One of the things we’ve been harping on is offensive rebounds, and I thought they did a great job of crashing the boards and boxing us out.

“Offensively, we had some good looks on our fast break, but they kind of stalemated us a little bit in our sets. I know the scoreboard showed a bigger discrepancy, but White Plains hustled the whole time. They played really hard.”

Tuesday’s game marked White Plains’ first under first-year head coach Clay Sprayberry, who was hired after Matt Ford stepped down following the 2022-23 season.

Center Bella Higgins and guard Cooper Martin led the Wildcats with six points apiece. Martin hit two 3-pointers.

“We’re playing Oxford, one of the best teams in Calhoun County year after year, and their press and their defense is going to expose things,” Sprayberry said. “That’s good for us. It gives us a lot of things we can work on.

“I told the girls, it’s one of 30 ballgames this year. We’ve got a lot to work on, but we’ve got a lot of games left.” 


JAX CHRISTIAN BOYS 75, GSD 32: Jesse Gannaway poured in 33 points to lead Jacksonville Christian past Georgia School for the Deaf in the Thunder’s season opener. He also added seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.

Noah Lee added 16 points and 24 rebounds with five assists and five steals.

Travis Barnhill scored 13 points, and Bryson Dowdey added 12.

SPRINGVILLE BOYS 70, JACKSONVILLE 64: Devin Barksdale poured in 24 points, but two-time defending Class 4A state champion Jacksonville, minus football players, fell to Springville.

Jacksonville’s football team plays its second-round playoff game at Bibb County on Friday.

Barksdale hit five of 14 3-pointers.

Aaron Nixon added 15 points, and Jaquan Ervin scored 13 for the Golden Eagles.

JAX CHRISTIAN GIRLS 73, GSD 7: Addy Lee led three JCA players in double figures with 15 points. She also had four rebounds and four steals.

Riley Sanders added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals, and Abigaila McNeal scored 12 points with three rebounds as the Thunder opened the season victorious.

SPRINGVILLE 68, JACKSONVILLE 36: Ashley Grant led Jacksonville with 12 points, hitting five of 11 shots from the field. She made two 3-pointers.

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