Oak Mountain pulls away late to beat Spain Park as Whitaker, Kester score 14

Published 1:09 am Saturday, January 20, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOOVER – In a hard-fought battle that many have come to expect from this rivalry, the Oak Mountain Eagles held off the Spain Park Jaguars and pulled away to earn the 46-32 win on Friday, Jan. 19 at Spain Park High School.

Ava Leonard got the Jags off to a strong start in the early minutes, hitting a three-pointer for the first basket of the game from either side and following that up with another basket shortly after.

That gave Spain Park a 5-0 lead, but just around the halfway mark in the quarter, the tide turned in Oak Mountain’s favor.

Ella Holt hit a three-pointer to get the Eagles on the board, and Elizabeth Butler hit one of her own to take the lead. Then as the first quarter buzzer sounded, Caroline Kester sank Oak Mountain’s third three of the quarter to extend the lead to 9-6.

Spain Park’s Teagan Huey cut the deficit to just one point a minute and a half into the second quarter, but that would be as close as the Jags could get before halftime.

The Eagles extended their lead to eight as the quarter went on, and while a Leonard field goal and Tori Flournoy free throw drew Spain Park back within six, Oak Mountain still took a two-possession lead into the locker room with a 16-10 advantage.

The Jags had the momentum coming out of halftime and scored 10 points in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the third to cut the lead to 22-20.

However, just when it looked like Spain Park would take the lead back, Reagan Whitaker earned a basket and a foul to take the Eagles’ lead back to five points.

Oak Mountain pulled away from there to end the third, capping it off with a Kester three-pointer with 13 seconds left to give the Eagles a 34-24 lead at the end of the quarter.

While Oak Mountain extended its lead to 12 in the opening minutes of the fourth, Spain Park slashed that lead to seven with an and-one from Teagan Huey.

Soon afterwards, Holt hit a three-pointer to restore the double-digit advantage, and the Eagles held off the Jags on the free-throw line to take the 14-point win.

Whitaker and Kester tied for the game-high with 14 points for Oak Mountain. In addition, Holt scored 11 points and Butler had five points.

As for Spain Park, Leonard led the way with 11 points and Huey had nine points.

Due to the winter weather earlier in the week, Oak Mountain will have a quick turnaround and face the McAdory Yellow Jackets on Saturday, Jan. 20. Tip-off is at 6:15 p.m. at Oak Mountain High School.

Spain Park will next face a top-10 Chelsea team on the road on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m.