MACCLENNY– In a clash of potential region 1-8A foes, the Oakleaf High Knights’ basketball team took the first punch with a 54-52 win over Robert E. Lee High School on December 27 at the …
MACCLENNY– In a clash of potential region 1-8A foes, the Oakleaf High Knights’ basketball team took the first punch with a 54-52 win over Robert E. Lee High School on December 27 at the Florida First Coast Classic at Baker County High School.
8A-Oakleaf (6-4) continued in the tournament after the win with a 69-41 loss to 2A-Washington County High (9-4) of Sandersville, GA, in the semifinal before beating host Baker County 55-46 to take the third place team trophy. Guard Kenny Thomas landed 19 points with five steals. Williams had 11 rebounds and five blocks.
“I like a game like this (Lee) because it is a potential peek at a region playoff atmosphere,” said Oakleaf High coach Jason Price. “We got a great game from Chantz Williams with seven blocks and Jalen Rivers adds to the defense in the middle with his strength.”
Washington County eventual won the the tournament title with a 89-65 win over Hamilton County (FL). Ridgeview also competed in the tournament; losing to Hamilton County 68-60 and Lee.
Against Lee, a key region 1-8A possible playoff opponent, junior center Chantz Williams emerged as a key player with seven blocked shots including the final one in the final minute that came moments before guard Markel Allums hit Williams at half court who found guard Kenneith Thomas under the Lee basket for the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds on the clock.
“We got good production from our youngs guys off the bench and the seniors stepped up at the end to close the game,” said Price. “Guys like Chantz and Kenny (Thomas) have to be the leaders so the young guys can see what is expected.”
On the next Lee in-bound, from halfcourt, Williams hovered over Lee guard Cobia Gates as he drove to the basket for a final shot. Williams knocked the forced shot out of bounds. Lee had one final in-bound attempt, but their buzzer shot was off the mark.
Against Lee, Oakleaf opened with a 17-8 surge that finished at 20-17 after one quarter with Oakleaf hitting four three-pointers; Thomas nailing two and Quintez Johnson and Corey Humbles both hitting one apiece. Lee guard Teron Haywood hit a three at the buzzer to close the gap.
In the second quarter, Oakleaf ramped up the trap defense at the half court stripe with the 6’-4” Williams combining with 6’-6” Jalen Rivers in the paint to thwart Lee’s attempts to drive to the basket.
Oakleaf continued the hot shooting with Johnson and Zaki Butler both nailing three-pointers and Rivers knocking down two jumpers as the Knights pushed to a 34-20 lead with two minutes to the half. A final three from Humbles sealed the halfcourt lead of 34-26 as the teams headed to the lockers.
Lee stormed the third quarter to close the gap to 36-32 before Williams popped in an offensive rebound with a layup and a foul to push Oakleaf back to a comfortable 39-32 lead with five minutes left in the period.
Lee pushed back to tie the game at 44-44 with 6’-6” center Alex Fudge nailing a three-pointer to open the fourth quarter, but Oakleaf guard Amari Fletcher, off the bench, hit two jumpers to push the Knights to a 50-44 lead.
Missed free throws by Oakleaf got Lee to 51-50 and 52-52 before Thomas’ winning layup.