Oak Mountain heads to area title game with win over Thompson

The margin for error in Class 6A, Area 10 this season is slim in the eyes of first-year Oak Mountain High School boys’ basketball coach Chris Love.

Love’s Eagles earned the right to host the Area 10 tournament, but he knew that was about the only advantage his team had against Thompson in the semifinals. After a 3-point win and an overtime victory in two previous meetings with the Warriors, Love expected another battle in the third meeting.

It was everything Love expected as his Eagles escaped with a 43-39 win over Thompson.

“(Thompson) is a very good basketball team,” Love said. “We knew this would be a dog fight.”

Oak Mountain (19-7) will meet Spain Park in the Area 10 championship game Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.

Cary Baxter led the Eagles with 16 points. Colton McGriff added eight points and Drew Rosenberg chipped in seven points.

Demarcus Threatt led Thompson (12-17) with 14 points. Kenny Johnson added nine points. Josh Neville chipped in seven points.

Threatt got off to a hot start in the first quarter. Threatt nailed a 3-pointer, drove down the lane twice for layups and added another easy basket after an Oak Mountain turnover in the opening period to help the Warriors take a 15-6 lead early in the game.

The Eagles came storming back in the second quarter. Senior guard Mark Caldwell’s 3-pointer with five seconds left in the first half gave Oak Mountain a 22-21 lead, which was the Eagles’ first lead since the opening minutes.

Baxter went on a personal 5-0 run to help Oak Mountain extend its lead to 31-25 late in the third quarter.

Johnson responded with a 5-0 run of his own early in the fourth quarter to help Thompson regain the lead at 32-31.

Senior guard Andrew Hackney’s 3-pointer minutes later gave Oak Mountain a 36-32 lead and sparked the Eagles’ final run. Oak Mountain held on the rest of the way.

Love said senior leadership played a role in helping the Eagles advance to the Area 10 championship game.

“Our six seniors did a great job,” Love said. “It’s just a special group.”

First-year Thompson coach Patrick Davis said he was disappointed the Warriors couldn’t extend their run of three-consecutive regional tournament appearances.

“We definitely got better from the beginning of the season to the end,” Davis said. “It was an execution issue tonight. I take full responsibility for that. I’m proud of the effort my guys gave night in and night out.”