Final-quarter push gives Oak Mountain rivalry win against Chelsea

Published 11:48 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – A 26-point fourth quarter was the difference for the Oak Mountain Eagles on Tuesday night, Dec. 14, in a rivalry battle with Chelsea.

Hosting the Hornets in an annual matchup between the two teams, the Eagles entered the final quarter with a slim six-point advantage.

But having led Chelsea much of the game to that point, Oak Mountain finally got the final push it needed early in the final quarter behind a 15-2 run.

That became too much for the Hornets, who had been battling back the entire game, as the Eagles closed out a 75-56 victory.

Chelsea struck first on a 3-pointer from Avery Futch to kick start a big night from the sophomore, but the Eagles bounced back with two fast breaks in a row leading to layups for Brady Dunn and Matthew Heiberger.

That also started a strong first half of Oak Mountain using steals and second looks.

But a back-and-forth game took shape up to a 12-11 lead from Chelsea midway through the opening quarter.

From there, the Eagles responded with an offensive rebound from Trey Thomas and a layup from Dunn before Thomas picked up a shot through contact, Ryan Giegel hit a 3-pointer and Heiberger assisted on a pass deep down low to Thomas for a shot at the buzzer.

All of that action from Oak Mountain allowed the Eagles to end the quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 20-12 lead.

But as often as they tried in the first three quarters, the Eagles couldn’t put Chelsea away.

The Hornets got several big baskets from Futch in the second quarter to help trim the deficit.

After the Eagles went up 28-16, Chelsea got five from Futch and a basket from Aiden Owens to go on a quick 7-0 run and get within five points.

That led to a back-and-forth finish to the half between the two teams as Futch and Owens finished off the half with four more in a row to cut Oak Mountain’s lead to 34-29 at the break.

That helped give Chelsea confidence coming out in the second half, as the Hornets started the third quarter on an 8-4 run to draw within one point.

But they never could get over the hump and tie the game or take the lead.

A big reason—turnovers and offensive rebounds.

After their lead was cut to one, Oak Mountain responded with a 10-0 run thanks to an offensive put back followed by four consecutive baskets made off steals.

Wilder Evers had six of the 10 points in the stretch as part of an impressive second half for the senior.

That helped the Eagles jump back on top by 11, but the Hornets responded with four points from EJ Hudnall and a post move from Futch to end the quarter and create a 49-43 game toing to the final period.

In the fourth, however, Oak Mountain finally got the run it needed.

After Evan Smith and Dunn each made layups to start the quarter, Futch hit another jumper to halt the quick spurt.

That, however, was followed by two free throws from Evers, a steal from Smith leading to an Ean Gove layup, an Evers dunk, two free throws from Ryan Giegel and an and-1 from Evers to take a 61-45 lead.

A 3-pointer from Paul Lanzi halted the run, but it was quickly answered by a three from Giegel, which became the final blow.

The Eagles ended up outscoring Chelsea 26-13 in the final quarter to complete an otherwise hard-fought game from both sides.

Evers led the way for Oak Mountain with 21 points, while Giegel added 11. Dunn and Tre Thomas each added 10 to give the Eagles four in double figures.

Chelsea was led by Futch with 25 points, while Alex Redd finished with 11.