Late momentum swing gives Oak Mountain 3rd area win
Published 9:41 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – Thanks to two game-changing dunks from Antheny Carey late in the fourth quarter off beautiful assists from Evan Smith, the Oak Mountain Eagles were able to pull away for their third area win of the season against Tuscaloosa County on Tuesday, Jan. 22, by a final of 51-41.
The game was close throughout after the Wildcats overcame a big first-quarter deficit to keep the game within five points or less for the majority of the game until the Eagles pulled away with a 9-2 run to close out the victory.
While the first few baskets looked like a back-and-forth game early on, you got the sense that Oak Mountain was the better team and ready to go on a quick run.
After a 4-4 tie, that’s exactly what happened.
The Eagles were able to put together a 12-0 run over the next few minutes featuring the usual balance offensively they have put on display all season and an emphatic alley oop dunk from Carey, which helped them take a 16-4 lead late in the opening period of the game.
Tuscaloosa County, however, was able to respond with a very quick 5-0 run to close out the frame in large part to a 3-pointer, which seemed to ignite the team slightly heading into the second quarter.
After scoring the first basket of the second quarter, that run continued for the Wildcats and they didn’t slow up.
Oak Mountain (16-8, 3-2) eventually jumped back in front 18-11, but that was answered quickly by a 9-2 run that saw Tuscaloosa County eventually tie the game at 20-20 late in the frame.
Despite the offensive struggles all of a sudden, the Eagles still didn’t panic and never allowed the Wildcats to overtake the lead in the half.
After an and-1 and three made free throws from Noah Young, Oak Mountain took a 25-22, but the scoring in the quarter was closed out by an and-1 from Tuscaloosa County to even the score 25-25 at the break.
With the Wildcats going into the half with a ton of confidence, they spent very little time in the locker room before they came out ready to go and it showed.
While Oak Mountain started playing better, Tuscaloosa County was still making shots and matched every shot the Eagles made.
Oak Mountain eventually jumped up 32-29 off a Drew Dunn 3-pointer, but the Wildcats came right back with a 4-0 run to take its second lead of the game and first since it was a 2-0 game.
That didn’t last long, however, as Dunn knocked down another 3-pointer to put the Eagles right back in front at 35-33.
Tuscaloosa County continued to answer, but the Eagles held steady and held that two-point lead at 39-37 heading to the final quarter of play.
As he had done so many times throughout the night, Dunn drained a big 3-pointer right out of the gate to start the final period, which extended Oak Mountain’s lead to 42-37.
It became key because the game went scoreless over the next 2:45 of play.
Tuscaloosa County eventually hit two consecutive free throws to get back within three points, but then the big momentum swing came.
After Evan Smith lost control of the ball, it looked like Oak Mountain may turn the ball over, but instead he regained possession near the half-court line, got around his defender and dished a slick pass from the 3-point line down to Carey slicing through the lane before he threw down a monster two-handed dunk that not only ignited the crowd, but had the making of a difference-making play for the team.
On the very next possession, the almost identical thing happened, as Smith got around his defender again. This time he worked his way into the paint and slid another slick pass to Carey who threw down another dunk.
Those two possessions didn’t just spark a 4-0 run, but led to an eventual 9-0 run that saw Oak Mountain take a 51-39 lead with less than two minutes to play.
The Eagles didn’t score again, but the damage had been done as they held on to pull out the 51-41 victory.
Young led the way for Oak Mountain with 15 points, while Dunn and Carey both added 12 points. Smith had some impressive plays from the point guard position with several key passes.