Oak Mountain downs Chelsea, will host area tournament

Published 10:07 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – An impressive finish to close out area play in the regular season got even more special for the Oak Mountain Eagles on Friday, Jan. 27.

Taking on rival Chelsea, not only were the Eagles looking for redemption from a tightly-contested 67-58 loss against the Hornets two weeks earlier, but they had an outside chance of earning the top seed for the area tournament.

Needing a Spain Park loss to Hewitt-Trussville and a win of their own, the Eagles got the first box checked with a 42-40 loss for Spain Park and then a few minutes later polished off their own win against the Hornets.

In what was another thrilling battle between the two rivals, Oak Mountain took a three-point game with 2:40 left and closed it out with an 11-4 run to pick up a 73-53 win that will now allow the Eagles to host the area tournament.

The game as a whole, however, was far from the 10-point game it ended as.

The opening quarter alone saw five lead changes and multiple ties. Chelsea was able to grab the largest lead of the first period at 13-7 thanks to an 8-0 run, but Oak Mountain came right back with a 6-0 run of its own to even the score.

Shortly after, however, Avery Futch broke the tie with a 3-pointer for the Hornets that gave them the lead back. They went on to maintain that lead at the end of the frame, taking a 17-15 advantage into the second quarter.

That excitement carried into the second quarter, as Chelsea maintained a five-point lead for much of the first half of the period before Oak Mountain put together a run to even the score at 22-22.

A 3-pointer from the Hornets again broke that tie, before a back-and-forth end to the half saw Chelsea take a five-point lead once again only to have the Eagles draw back within two.

But one last push allowed Chelsea to take a 33-28 lead into the halftime break.

The lead blossomed quickly to seven points early in the second half, but Oak Mountain immediately responded.

The Eagles put together an 11-4 run to tie the game with less than five minutes to play in the period.

That, however, was just the beginning, as they tacked on six more points to make it a 17-4 run overall that allowed them to storm in front for a 45-39 lead with 3:17 left in the third.

Oak Mountain went on to lead by as many as seven at 48-41, but Chelsea eventually regained its composure late in the third quarter to trim the deficit down to six at 50-44 going to the final quarter.

The Hornets capitalized on the momentum swing early in the final quarter by starting on an 8-2 run to get within one point with 7:11 left.

The game, however, became a game of runs from there, which ultimately became too much of a climb for Chelsea.

Oak Mountain quickly answered over the next two minutes with a 9-0 run that put the Eagles in front 59-49 with 5:10 to play.

Chelsea clawed all the way back to within three behind a 10-3 run of its own over the next 2:20, but the Eagles had time for the final run of the game.

They finished off the win with a strong 11-4 run over the final 2:40 to pick up the win.

Matthew Heiberger was crucial in the victory with 30 points, six rebounds and two blocks, while Grey Williams added 18 points and three rebounds in the win.

Kevin Jasinski chipped in eight points and four boards with Eli Love adding seven points.

Chelsea also had impressive performances in the thrilling matchup with Paul Lanzi scoring 33 points and Futch 20 points.