Oak Mountain headed to Sweet 16 with win over Tuscaloosa County

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – For the first time in four years, the Oak Mountain Eagles are headed to the Sweet 16 after a dominant effort against Tuscaloosa County on Thursday, Feb. 6.

The Eagles controlled the game from start to finish and went on to win by a final score of 71-38 to also advance to the area tournament championship game against Hoover.

Zane Nelson was a major factor in that success, as the senior posted 24 points in just three quarters of action, while eight different players scored in the win. 

The Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game. After falling behind 3-2 early, they answered with a 13-2 run that featured a strong stretch from Noah Young.

He knocked down two 3-pointers and scored eight of nine points in a three-minute stretch at one point to help the Eagles take a 15-5 lead. Following that, both teams traded baskets, but a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded from Nelson led to Oak Mountain taking a 20-11 advantage at the end of the quarter.

While Oak Mountain’s defense had started to slack off a little, the Eagles were playing like the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Tuscaloosa County came out and started the second quarter with a basket to cut the deficit to seven points, which led to Oak Mountain head coach Chris Love screaming at his team for a defensive stop.

His team listened, which led to a 13-4 run behind two and-1 plays from Nelson, a layup from Evan Smith, a dunk from Will Shaver and a 3-pointer from Brady Dunn.

That helped play a part in the Eagles extending their lead to 14 points at 33-19 heading into the half.

With all of the momentum, Oak Mountain carried its confidence out of the break and into the second half thanks to Smith and Nelson going on a 5-0 run in the opening minute of the third quarter.

Nelson’s 3-pointer sparked an impressive 12-point quarter for the senior, who had a stretch of nine straight points for Oak Mountain at one point. That eventually led to the Eagles jumping in front 54-28 late in the quarter, before Dunn hit another 3-pointer to make it 57-31 heading to the fourth.

Oak Mountain quickly extended the lead to 30 points in the final period and had smooth sailing the rest of the way, as the starters got to rest for the majority of the final quarter, which led to several fun moments for the Eagles’ bench.

Beyond Nelson’s 24, Young and Wilder Evers each added 10 points.