They played without 6-foot-6 senior Isaac Merian on Friday, but the Oak Ridge Wildcats built a 30-13 scoring cushion in the first half and kept it in the second, taking a 66-37 win over the Gibbs Eagles at home.
The Wildcats (16-5, 6-1 in District 3) took advantage of a series of deflections and steals, especially in the first half, used an effective press, and stayed aggressive throughout the game, Oak Ridge coach Aaron Green said. Keeping the Eagles (0-12, 0-7) to 13 points in the first half was also important, Green said.
Merian injured his shoulder during a Tuesday night third-place game in the 2013 Arby’s Classic in Bristol, when the Wildcats lost 67-40 to the Christ Presbyterian Academy Lions. Merian is a scorer, protector, rebounder, and leader, and the team should know more about his shoulder injury after an MRI on Monday, Green said.
The Wildcats have a big district game at Karns on Tuesday, when they’ll play the Eagles and senior point guard Devin Sibley.
Earlier Friday, the Lady Wildcats (3-14, 2-5) led the Lady Eagles 23-19 at halftime but were down 30-29 headed into the fourth quarter. Oak Ridge was able to tie the game several times in the last quarter, but Gibbs (3-9, 3-4) pulled away at the end, finishing with a 49-39 win.
Coach David Scott said the team had foul trouble—Asia Anderson and Caelyn Thompson sat out about half the game—and had a hard time scoring, missing some easy baskets.
The Lady Wildcats need to be able to finish close games, and Oak Ridge needs to work on its shooting and defense before traveling to Karns on Tuesday, Scott said.
Green said the Wildcats’ top scorers on Friday included Jaylin Henderson with 17 points, Xavier Maddox with 10 points and eight rebounds, Geevantay Gee with nine points, and Tee Higgins with eight.
Green said he was pleased with the Wildcats’ performance in the Arby’s Classic at the end of December, the second year the team has participated. It’s one of the best tournaments in the country, Green said. The Wildcats finished fourth of 16, and three of the four teams they played are defending state champions in Ohio, Georgia, and Tennessee.
You can read coverage of the Oak Ridge games in the Arby’s Classic in Bristol:
- Mentor mopped (Oak Ridge defeats Mentor (Ohio) in a 97-69 first-round Arby’s Classic victory.) (TriCities.com)
- Merian shows his defensive skills as Oak Ridge moves to semis (The Wildcats win 54-47 over the Murfreesboro Oakland Patriots in the quarterfinals.) (TriCities.com)
- GAC, Peachtree Ridge boys hoops teams win in Arby’s Classic (The unbeaten Greater Atlanta Christian team reached the title game with a 46-42 semifinal victory over Oak Ridge.) (Gwinnett Daily Post)
- CPA crushes Oak Ridge (Christ Presbyterian Academy beats Oak Ridge 67-40 in the third-place game.) (TriCities.com)