Oak Mountain set to face Homewood in Metro Tourney title game

Published 12:20 am Saturday, December 29, 2018

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

HOMEWOOD – Oak Mountain’s defense got the job done and advanced the Eagles to the championship round of the Metro Tournament following their 13th win of the season.

The Eagles limited the Hartselle Tigers to just three field goals in the first half and kept them at a distance throughout the game to set up a date with Homewood for the tournament title.

Oak Mountain didn’t allow a single bucket in a slow-moving first quarter as their man defense kept a Tigers squad with limited range covered on the outside.

Sophomore Noah Young and Antheny Carey rattled home two apiece as Oak Mountain took a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter, 12-2.

Oak Mountain head coach Chris Love spoke on Young’s development over the season.

“I think he’s getting a lot more confident and comfortable in what we’ve been asking him to do, he’s really playing out of position in the post,” Love said. “He’s doing a great job rebounding and getting offensive rebounds, but he’s growing as the season has gone on.”

The second quarter picked up the pace, yet both teams struggled to convert their second chances on offense. Hartselle in particular missed several easy shots in the paint, including several putback layups.

Six offensive rebounds for each team resulted in just two second chance points on either side as the teams traded baskets until halftime. When the dust settled Oak Mountain maintained a 21-10 lead.

Hartselle tried to slow the game down to a snail’s pace and succeeded, but with mixed results. The Tigers harassed Oak Mountain pressing after made baskets and extended their zone defense to counteract the Eagles’ proficiency from outside.

“They do a lot of things that you don’t see a lot,” Love said. “We talked a lot in the walk through this morning about being ball tough and understanding where the gaps are. The kids did a nice job of attacking those.”

Keondre Swoopes scored six of his eight points in the quarter for the Tigers as they narrowed their deficit back to single digits several times, but couldn’t get closer than that.

Hartselle was able to attack the basket with success, but Oak Mountain stayed even with their long range shooting and finding holes in the press and zone coverages.

Leading the game 32-21 going to the fourth quarter, Oak Mountain opened the game back up with two threes from Drew Dunn. Hartselle didn’t make a single 3-pointer until 1:30 left in the game and the result mostly determined.

The Eagles were able to ice the game hitting seven of their last eight free throws. Young scored six of his game-high 15 points in the fourth while Dunn finished with 14. Carey nearly finished with a double-double scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds with three blocks.

Oak Mountain (13-5) will meet tournament host Homewood in a winner-take-all match for the Metro Tournament championship Saturday, Dec 29 at 1:30 p.m. Hartselle will take on Spain Park for third place.