Oak Mountain edges out Spain Park in thrilling rivalry win

Published 11:27 pm Thursday, December 13, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – Despite blowing a 12-point lead in the final quarter and Spain Park having several chances to tie and even take the lead in the final minutes, the Oak Mountain Eagles were able to improve 8-4 this season with a big road win over the Jaguars by a final score of 48-43 on Thursday, Dec. 13.

Oak Mountain started the final period on a 7-0 run that gave them a 44-32 advantage, but the Jags (2-10) battled all the way back to within two points at 44-42 after Austin Laatsch hit a 3-pointer with 35.7 seconds left in the game to cap a 10-0 run.

A steal shortly after led to an open shot from beyond the arc for Grant Sims and despite the miss, he was fouled on the shot giving him three free throws at the line with a chance to tie or take the lead.

Sims, however, hit just one of his three free throws, which left the Jags down 44-43.

Evan Smith then calmly stepped to the line to sink two free throws, and on Spain Park’s next offensive possession, the Jags were called for an offensive foul to give the ball back to the Eagles.

Stone Evers, however, missed the front end of a 1-and-1, which gave the ball right back to the Jaguars with 18 seconds left in the game.

After a great play got Boswell open in the corner for a chance at the game-tying 3-pointer, he ended up missing the shot.

After Smith stepped back to the line and hit two more free throws, an action-packed game had ended.

The game featured a combined 17 different scorers and a combined 14 3-pointers, as both teams fought in a battle.

It was an up-and-down night for Oak Mountain, and similar to its slow start against Pelham two nights earlier and it’s slow ending against the Jags, the Eagles came out and started slow in the first four minutes of the first half and Spain Park capitalized.

The Jaguars were able to get baskets from four different players en route to a 9-0 run in the first three minutes of the game.

The Eagles finally hit their first basket of the game 4:20 into the opening period on a Zane Nelson 3-pointer that ended the cold streak.

Sims, however, answered back with one for Spain Park to put the Jags on top 12-3. They eventually took a 15-5 lead, but a 3-pointer from Oak Mountain’s Zane Nelson right at the buzzer eventually gave the Eagles the confidence boost they needed despite trailing 15-8 at the end of the first quarter.

Drew Dunn carried Nelson’s shot over into the second quarter and willed his way to an off balance jumper and a 3-pointer to give the Eagles even more confidence.

You could see a jolt in their energy as they started playing faster and running out fast breaks on seemingly every position with great ball movement.

That allowed the Eagles to start on a quick 7-0 run in the first 1:09 of the period and a 10-0 run in the first 1:50 after a Noah Young 3-pointer gave them an 18-15 lead—their first of the game.

Spain Park ended the run with a free throw, but Dunn came back to hit another 3-pointer followed by a block and fast break layup that put the Eagles up 23-16 and on a 15-1 run in the quarter.

The Jags eventually switched to a zone, which became very effective, but after some struggles, a beautifully designed backdoor play to Will Shaver for a layup that gave Oak Mountain a 25-17 lead.

Then Spain Park got the confidence boost it needed with back-to-back 3-pointers from Laatsch and Parker Boswell before the end of the half to cut the deficit to 25-23 at the break and gain some much-needed confidence.

Coming out of the half, however, Dunn caught fire again.

He ended up hitting three 3-pointers in a row for Oak Mountain, which eventually helped the Eagles regain a 10-point lead at 37-27.

Spain Park was able to get some confidence back in the final two minutes of the quarter tanks to a 5-0 run featuring two free throws and a 3-pointer from Laatsch, which brought the Jags back within five points at 37-32 heading to the final period.

Thanks to three layups in four possessions to start the final quarter with the fourth possession featuring a free throw, Oak Mountain was able to extend its lead to 44-32 with a quick 7-0 run, which was the opposite of the start the Jags needed to the final period.

That’s when Spain Park showed it could overcome that start with the 10-0 run, before ultimately losing the heartbreaker.

Oak Mountain was led by Dunn with 19 points thanks to five 3-pointers, while Smith had eight points thanks in large part to four clutch free throws at the end. The Eagles had eight players score in the win.

Spain park was led by Laatsch with 11 points, including some late magic from beyond the arc, but more importantly, the Jags got points from nine different players and showed no quit in the loss, something they can build off of.