Oak Mountain beats Helena in overtime at home

Published 11:28 am Monday, February 1, 2016

Oak Mountain’s Gabe Haynes drives into the lane during the Eagles’ overtime win at Helena on Jan. 29. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

Oak Mountain’s Gabe Haynes drives into the lane during the Eagles’ overtime win at Helena on Jan. 29. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

HELENA – Oak Mountain, the newly-designated No. 5 team in class 7A, traveled across the northern part of the county to take on Helena and the Huskies’ 13-game win streak on Jan. 29. The Eagles and the Huskies have been two of the most consistent programs in the county this season, and both played like it on Friday as well. In the end, four quarters was not enough to name a winner, as Oak Mountain won, 44-42 in overtime on a last-second layup from Yeadon Patrick.

Helena started the season 6-6, but from that point won 13 games in a row, thanks in part to the shifting zone defense the Huskies play, and the perimeter athletes they have to make it work. Between Jon and Paul Brown, Justin Stuckey and Jaylen Harris, Helena has the quickness on the perimeter to pressure the ball just inside the half court line and not compromise the integrity of the zone.

“They’re a very good, well-coached team,” Oak Mountain head coach Chris Love said after the game. “It’s very difficult to play against them because what they do is so different than what you typically see.”

Oak Mountain was without the services of senior big man Payton Youngblood, who tweaked his ankle in a win against Spain Park earlier in the week and sat out as a precautionary measure. Without Youngblood’s size and athleticism in the middle, the Eagles had to rely heavily on their supporting cast for production.

After a tight, low-scoring first quarter, Helena held a slight 9-7 advantage. The whole first half the Eagles had a hard time getting into the heart of Helena’s trapping zone defense for good looks and weren’t hitting shots from the perimeter either. Helena also struggled offensively as the Huskies missed a number of free throws and easy inside looks. No player had more than six points in the first half, as Wyatt Legas’ two threes were the highlight of a low-scoring first half that ended tied at 16-16.

In the second half, both teams found a shooting touch, as Wyatt Armstrong and Harris each hit multiple three in the third quarter. The Eagles routinely had possessions that lasted upwards of a minute, as they methodically worked the ball around the perimeter, trying to penetrate Helena’s zone. The Huskies took a slight, two-point advantage into the fourth quarter thanks in part to the shots made by Harris.

Armstrong continued to lead Oak Mountain in the fourth quarter, as his two additional threes in the final period of regulation helped the Eagles tie the game at 35-35, and neither team scored a point in the last three minutes of regulation as the two headed for an extra period.

Overtime was a continuation of what had taken place before. Strong defense marked with occasional scoring. Paul Brown tied the game at 40 apiece with under a minute left to play, and as the clock wound down, Armstrong found himself trapped just over the half court line. In desperation, he located an open Patrick at the low block, and launched a cross-court pass. Patrick collected the pass and put the ball in the hole as time expired, and Oak Mountain escaped with the two-point win.