County champions – Oak Mountain’s Eagles edge Calera

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Even before Calera collided with Oak Mountain in the finals of the Shelby Couny basketball tournament, coach Jerry North had noticed a trend in the play of his Eagles’ opponents – they were a strong second-half team.

That’s why going into the half with an eight-point lead, North never got too comfortable.

&uot;We’d noticed that several times (Calera’s) opponents had the lead at the half and they’d crank up the intensity level later in the game,&uot; North said. &uot;So in the fourth quarter we were expecting that and I think our kids handled it pretty well.&uot;

Calera used a suffocating defense and fast-paced play to narrow the gap to one with 10 seconds remaining in the game.

But Chase Tomlinson came through in the clutch for Oak Mountain, hitting three of four free-throw attempts in the final seconds.

Calera’s T.J. Green drained a three-pointer just before the buzzer as Oak Mountain claimed a 60-59 win over top-seeded Calera (10-3).

Oak Mountain (12-0) got top performances from its only senior players, Micah McKinney and Andrew Chesney.

The close friends were both named to the all tournament team.

&uot;We play them at the post, but they’re able to handle the ball, too,&uot; North said of the duo. &uot;They’re able to shoot the ball from outside so that gives us a little added weapon at times.&uot;

McKinney, who turned in an 18-point performance in the title game, was named tournament MVP.

&uot;We played real well and we didn’t turn the ball over in the end,&uot; McKinney said. &uot;We kept our composure.&uot;

Chesney had 16 points and six rebounds while Tyler Gallimore and Bryant Gardner each had seven points for Oak Mountain. Tomlinson finished with five points and six rebounds.

Last year’s tournament MVP, George Drake, led Calera with 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Green also had 15 points with five assists and four steals.

Trey Russell scored 11 points for Calera