Spain Park fends off rival Oak Mountain to win area opener

Published 12:27 am Saturday, January 6, 2024

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Publisher

NORTH SHELBY – The Spain Park Jaguars fended off a second-half surge from the Oak Mountain Eagles on Friday, Jan. 5 to open area play with a tightly contested road win.

The Jaguars led by 12 at the half thanks to a consistent first half on both ends of the court, but Oak Mountain surged back into the game in the second half, trimming the deficit to single digits at the end of the third quarter and nearly clawing back in the final quarter.

Spain Park, however, went 7-10 from the free throw line in the final quarter to do what was needed to close out a 56-50 victory to start area play in Class 7A, Area 6 with a six-point win.

The game got off to an exciting start in the opening quarter with a back-and-froth battle that saw Spain Park hot from the field early and Oak Mountain hot from the free throw line.

The Jags got four points each from T.J. Lamar and Korbin Long in the opening quarter, but it was five from Nick Richardson that led the way thanks to a 3-pointer and a made field goal, while Cooper Gann went 1-2 from the free throw line to give Spain Park 14 in the opening quarter.

Oak Mountain didn’t have the same success from the field, but Grey Williams and Emanuel Johnson did their part in converting free throws.

Williams totaled five points in the opening period thanks to a 3-pointer and two made free throws, while Johnson went 3-4 from the line for three points himself. Will Patterson then added a field goal to give the Eagles a 10-point effort in the period.

Spain Park, however, had seized some early momentum, and the Jags continued to build off of that with a big second quarter on both ends of the floor.

Starting on the defensive end, the Jaguars limited the Eagles to their lowest output of the game with eight points in the second period, which allowed the offense to push the ball and capitalize on the offensive end.

The Jags caught fire from the free throw line themselves in the frame—Lamar in particular. He had seven points in the quarter and all seven came from the line thanks to a 7-8 mark.

Harrison Stewart and Parker Chase added one 3-pointer each to get in on the scoring, while Jonathan Fonbah put in one field goal and Long an additional free throw.

That group of scorers helped Spain Park build a 12-point, 30-18 lead going into the halftime break.

From there, Spain Park’s offense remained consistent the rest of the night, as the Jags never scored less than 13 points in any quarter.

Oak Mountain, however, was able to make some halftime adjustments to get the offense some confidence in the second half.

The Eagles used their best quarter of the game in the third period to remain within striking distance thanks to a 17-point period.

Williams and Will O’Dell each posted five points in the period on a 3-pointer and made field goal each, while Chris Kunard added two field goals himself for four points.

Long and Chapman Blevins, however, put together big third quarters to keep Spain Park in front going to the final quarter.

Long continued a strong night from the line for the Jags with a 4-4 mark from the free throw line in the quarter with an additional field goal, while Blevins added two field goals, one of which was an and-1 that he also converted the free throw for.

With their efforts, Spain Park maintained an eight-point advantage at 43-35 going to the final quarter.

Oak Mountain then used the three-ball to get closer to the lead in the final quarter with one each from Williams, Kevin Jasinski and Kunard, while Williams and Kunard added additional field goals as well.

It was part of a 15-point quarter that saw the Eagles continue to chip away at the lead, but Spain Park’s free throw shooting remained key.

The Jaguars went 7-10 from the line in the frame with Richardson leading the way on a 3-4 mark and Lamar and Chase both going 2-2.

Those seven free throws made became the difference in the victory as the Jags used a 13-point fourth quarter to close out the six-point win.

Lamar led the Jaguars with a 17-point night that included a 9-10 mark from the free throw line and four made field goals. Long also had a big night, posting 15 points in the win, while Richardson finished with eight.

Oak Mountain was led by 16 points from Williams thanks to three 3-pointers, a made field goal and five made free throws. Kunard also finished in double figures with 12, while O’Dell was just behind with nine.