Oak Mountain captures 7A Area 5 Championship over Hoover

Published 9:54 am Sunday, February 14, 2016

Oak Mountain's Will Stephenson helped lead the Eagles to a win over Hoover on Feb. 13 to claim the 7A Area 5 title. (File)

Oak Mountain’s Will Stephenson helped lead the Eagles to a 64-49 win over Hoover on Feb. 13 to claim the 7A Area 5 title. (File)

By AUSTIN FRANKLIN / Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – Defined by unselfish offensive play and a dominating second half performance, the Oak Mountain Eagles captured the 7A Area 5 Championship over Hoover by a final score of 64-49.

In a raucous environment, Hoover managed to keep the game close throughout the opening half. Hoover utilized their driving inside out offense to collapse Oak Mountain’s defense before passing the ball back to the perimeter for an open three. In fact, Hoover hit seven open threes in the first half.

Oak Mountain had several runs to extend a lead only to see Hoover immediately respond with a three to stay in the game. Jamari Blackmon in particular foiled any attempt the Eagles had at a lead in the early going. Blackmon, along with Cam Jones early threes, actually outpaced the Oak Mountain attack at the end of the first, with Hoover leading by one.

Hoover stayed hot from behind the arc in the second, but faced a far more aggressive Oak Mountain offense. Highlighted by a Payton Youngblood block that turned into an Allan Armstrong transition three, Oak Mountain looked to go into the half with a decent sized lead. But Hoover had other ideas going into the half, as Kory Eason stole the ball and made an acrobatic lay-up that led to an and-one with just 0.2 seconds remaining in the half. At half Oak Mountain’s lead was trimmed down to the score of 38-36.

Oak Mountain, led by Youngblood, effectively pulled away from Hoover down the stretch. Oak Mountain’s second half defense absolutely dominated Hoover’s inside out offense. Hoover was limited to 14 points of total offense in the second half, which allowed Oak Mountain to remain methodical with the ball and drain the clock while preserving their lead.

The defensive adjustments made life difficult for Hoover, who couldn’t survive with infrequent post looks.

Oak Mountain head coach Chris Love schemed to take away Hoover’s shooters and the plan worked wonders.

“They made seven three’s in the first half, so we just had to put pressure on the arc,” Love said.  “We let them isolate us in the post and we just tried to do a good job one on one in the post and stay on their shooters and the key to that is that we limited them to one shot, which was huge for us.”

Youngblood ended the game with 20 points, but his defense in the post was the springboard for the team’s second half dominance.

Coach Love, talking about how his team has melded over the season, celebrated how well his team has played down the stretch: “We’ve really played well since Christmas. We won the Shelby County Tournament right before Christmas and that really propelled us as a team. We’ve won ten in a row, and this is special group. They’re totally selfless, they don’t care who gets the points, we’re a true team that way.”

Oak Mountain can celebrate the Area championship today, as they should, before getting ready to advance onwards into the playoffs.