Oak Mountain, Stephenson take home county championship

Published 1:44 pm Sunday, December 20, 2015

Oak Mountain's Will Stephenson looks to pass around Thompson's Michael Freeman during the championship of the Shelby County tournament on Dec. 19. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

Oak Mountain’s Will Stephenson looks to pass around Thompson’s Michael Freeman during the championship of the Shelby County tournament on Dec. 19. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – The two 7A schools in the Shelby County boys’ basketball tournament, Thompson and Oak Mountain, met in the championship game on Dec. 19. The Warriors, the top-seeded team in the tournament and No. 8 team in 7A beat Chelsea and Montevallo en route to the finals while the Eagles, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, got past Shelby County and Vincent by an average of 24 points per game to meet Thompson in the finals. Both teams play in 7A Area 5, and will see each other again down the line, but in this first meeting of the year between the two, Oak Mountain pulled out the win by a final score of 55-42.

“I’m really pleased with what we’ve done the last three days,” Oak Mountain head coach Chris Love said after the game. “Thompson is a heck of a basketball team, Patrick (Davis) does an unbelievable job with them. It’s a tough game; no one really wants to show a lot because it doesn’t really count in area (play). We’re going to face them again down the road. But I thought our kids played really well.”

A low-scoring first quarter gave way to a plethora of points in the second. Reggie Chambers and Michael Freeman helped Thompson mount a very slight 10-8 lead heading into the second quarter before Oak Mountain caught fire. Five three-pointers, one from Wyatt Legas, one from Yeadon Patrick, one from Wyatt Armstrong and two from Will Stephenson helped the Eagles to score 22 second-quarter points and gain a 30-21 lead headed into the half. The Warriors were without Freeman for the majority of the second half, as he was limited with foul trouble, and struggled to close out shooters on the perimeter.

In the third quarter, Freeman tried to will Thompson back into the game, and along with Demonte Caffey helped pull the Warriors back to within six before he was called for a very questionable technical foul for hanging on the rim after an emphatic breakaway dunk midway through the quarter. From that point, Thompson still had chances to pull close late in the third quarter, but couldn’t get anything to fall as Oak Mountain took a 43-34 lead into the final quarter.

“We’ve been talking for two week about consistency in performance,” Thompson head coach Patrick Davis said after the game. “When we’re playing well I feel like we’re pretty good. But when we have a guy or two guys in the game that are not getting done what we need to get done, whether it’s from an energy standpoint, an effort standpoint or something with X’s and O’s, we just have to be more consistent.”

Stephenson hit an early three in the fourth quarter to put Oak Mountain up by double digits, and held off the Warriors throughout the last quarter to advance to 9-5 on the season and get the county championship.

Stephenson finished with 19 points to lead all scorers and also contributed five assists. Freeman led Thompson with 15 as the Warriors fell to 9-5.