Spain Park, Oak Mountain perform well at Eagles’ holiday tournament

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – The Oak Mountain Eagles and Spain Park Jaguars entered the 2020-2021 basketball season as two of the favorites to battle for a spot in the Class 7A Final Four, and so far, neither has disappointed, continuing strong starts at Oak Mountain’s holiday tournament Dec. 17-19.

Spain Park jumped out to a 12-0 start to the season and a No. 2 ranking in the first poll and went on to compete in the championship of the Oak Mountain Invite, ultimately finishing the tournament 2-1, while the host Eagles also finished with that same record after falling to Clay-Chalkville in the semifinals.

It was a strong tournament for the 6A Cougars, who beat both the Eagles and Jaguars in consecutive days to finish a perfect 3-0 to claim the title.

But despite the Jags losing that game 53-36 and Oak Mountain losing its semifinal game 56-39, both did pick up two wins in the tournament to continue an impressive season.

Spain Park took down Class 2A No. 1 Midfield 62-48 and Class 5A No. 5 Pleasant Grove 61-53 in the first two rounds to earn a spot in the championship game and improve its record to 14-2 following the tournament.

Oak Mountain opened the tournament with a 64-33 win against Mortimer Jordan and bounced back from the loss to Clay-Chalkville with a 73-64 victory against Pleasant Grove to improve to 11-5 overall this season.

In their opener, the Jaguars were led by Cam Crawford with 25 points, while J.R. Lambert and Zach Gray each added 11 points.

The second game was a bit more of a test and took overtime for Spain Park to pick up the win against Pleasant Grove, but thanks to Lambert scoring 26 points, the Jags prevailed. They also got 15 from Colin Turner and an emphatic dunk from Crawford, who finished with seven points.

In the championship loss, Spain Park’s offense was bottled up. The Jags were down by four at the end of the first two quarters, but the Cougars created some cushion in the third, which led to the win. Spain Park was led by Crawford with 11 points.

Oak Mountain was led by a strong performance from Matthew Heiberger in the opening win against Mortimer Jordan, as he finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Then in the semifinal game, the Eagles got two double figure scorers despite the difficult loss. Noah Young finished with 12 points, while Will Shaver finished with 10.

But the Eagles possibly saved their best performance for last. In the 73-64 win against Pleasant Grove, they got a double-double from Shaver with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Brady Dunn added 10 points and Wilder Evers posted nine points and four assists in a balanced effort.