BY GREG FLINT
If effort were points, the outcome of the Oakwood versus St. Joseph-Ogden contest would have been a lot closer than the 79-30 final score.
The Comets ran into one of the better teams in the state and despite working hard, found themselves out-shot, out-rebounded, but not out-hustled.
Things started well for SJO as they opened with an 11-0 run that finally ended when Parker Lee cut to the hoop for a lay-up. He would make the second Comet basket of game three minutes later, but his team trailed 18-4.
The Comets then looked as if they might right the ship as Kyle Elliott drained a pair of three-pointers, but the deficit was still 10 points as the quarter ended 24-10.
Against Georgetown-Ridge Farm, Lee was able to slash to the basket and Elliott was a force inside, but both were obvious targets for the Spartan defensive effort and though they got their points, they had to work for every one of them.
It was a chess match between the opposing coaches as Doug Robinson of the Comets wanted his team to spread out and move the ball around the perimeter looking for slashes to the basket.
His team did some of that early, but struggled to finish against the taller and quicker Spartans.
“We ran into a great team,” said Robinson of the Spartans, “But we got what we wanted in the first quarter. We looked for good shots, found them, but missed and that played into their hands because they rebound so well.”
Spartan coach Brian Brooks said his team has focused all season on rebounding, but also said his team made some defensive adjustments as the Comets began to slash.
“We played unbelievably well tonight,” said Brooks. “We started taking better angles defensively when they started cut inside to try to keep them out of the paint.”
Lee and Cameron Cawley both hit baskets early in the second quarter to cut the margin to ten, but then St-Joe went on a 10-0 run in the next five minutes to lead 34-14.
Andrew Curley ended the Oakwood drought with a lay-up, but the Spartans would close the quarter up 41-16.
In the third quarter, St-Joe began to pound the ball inside to Brent Schluter and the junior a pair of free throws and two baskets in a row.
The Comets also went inside, getting the ball to Elliot who was fouled, but hit his free throws. Landon Turner added a jumper and Lee hit a pair of lay-ups, but after three periods, the score was 59-26.
Late in the third and early in the fourth quarters, the Spartans also proved they could hit from beyond the arc and the continued to up their lead. Finally, both teams began to pull their starters to end the game.
Brooks said his team took advantage of having several scorers, saying, “We’ve got multiple guys who can put the ball in the hole. We’re not a selfish team and we work for good position and the good shot.”
Robinson thought his team tired, as they had to keep running back on defense, primarily because the Spartans got a lot of rebounds — a point also made by Brooks.
“They got the tempo they wanted and we wore down,” Robinson said.
He then talked about the season, saying that his team had picked up things in the final five games to carry into the regional.
“Before the game I told the players that Oakwood had not won a regional game in eight years,” he said. “We weren’t going to worry about our regular season record, but we knew we weren’t going to have a losing record in post-season and that’s what really matters.”
He then turned to his two seniors, Davin Miles and Kyle Elliott.
“Davin was a transfer in and had to learn a lot,” said Robinson. “He had big shoes to fill.”
He continued saying, “Kyle worked hard. When kids would come in and shoot a hundred shots, he’d come in and shoot five hundred. He has been great for this program. “
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org