Oak Mountain downs Thompson, wins 4th straight area game

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – After a 0-2 start to area play, the Oak Mountain Eagles were staring last place in Class 7A, Area 5 directly in the eyes.

Through those first two games, however, the Eagles were without two starters in one and one starter in another, losing to Hoover 54-39 and Tuscaloosa County 48-43.

But then, Will Shaver and Evan Smith became healthy and the Eagles took flight. They took down Thompson, Hoover and Tuscaloosa County to win their next three area games in a row, and on Friday, Jan. 29, they made it four in a row with their most dominant performance yet—a 73-43 win against Thompson.

With that win, the Eagles earned a share of first place to close out regular-season area play, which guaranteed them hosting the first round of the area tournament, with a coin flip determining who would host should the two end up in the championship round.

Oak Mountain carried over the hot shooting from beyond the arc that the two displayed in the first matchup, but the Warriors had a more difficult time getting in a rhythm on the road.

The Eagles jumped out to an 11-2 lead through the first few minutes thanks to three 3-pointers in their first four baskets.

In typical fashion, Thompson answered with a three of its own, but Oak Mountain came right back with another to make it 11-5 midway through the period.

Jack Dorolek cut the deficit to five points at 14-9 with a floater that slid over the front of the rim, then a basket from Grant Hopkins made it a four-point deficit at 15-11.

In what had become a back-and-forth final minute, the Eagles pushed right back up the floor and found Noah Young wide open in the corner. The senior pulled the trigger and drained a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to put Oak Mountain in front 18-11 at the end of the quarter.

That seemed to get Oak Mountain’s juices flowing, as the Eagles started the second quarter on an 11-3 run to extend their lead to 15 points at 29-14.

Shortly after, Evan Smith added two baskets, which quickly made it an 18-point advantage.

The Warriors went on to chip away as best they could over the final minute of the quarter with two baskets to cut it to 14, but the Eagles still went into the half with a strong advantage.

Early in the second half, Thompson cut Oak Mountain’s lead down to 11 points early in the quarter after Steven Walker threw down a put-back dunk and Brad Lewis made a jumper from just beyond the free throw line, but that flipped Oak Mountain into a new gear.

The Eagles answered that stretch from the Warriors with strong play from Will Shaver and Young.

Shaver threw down a put-back dunk of his own and had a post hook, while Young drained a 3-pointer, made a layup and scored an and-1 to help the Eagles open up a 20-point lead at 48-28.

Thompson got a basket from Lewis to end the quarter, but the damage was done at that point.

The Warriors put several bench players in to start the final quarter and Oak Mountain wasn’t far behind.

The starters helped the Eagles eventually jump in front 56-32 before the bench players then came in to finish off a dominant performance with 25 points in the final quarter.

Young led the way with 21 points, while Evers finish just behind with 18. Shaver added 10 for three scorers in double figures. The Eagles got points from eight players with some of the most exciting coming from Colin Patrick, Jah’ki Mullen and Connor Freel in the final minutes.

Thompson was led by 17 from Hopkins and 12 from Lewis.