Five Wildcats scored 10 points or more as Oak Ridge beat Clinton 85-51 in the first district game of the basketball season on Tuesday.
The Wildcats (8-0, 1-0 District 3-AAA) were led by junior Tajion Jones, who scored 22 points, including on four three-pointers. Jones also had three rebounds.
Junior Tee Higgins, who was named most valuable player in a basketball tournament in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving weekend and was named Mr. Football in Class 5A in Tennessee two days later, on Monday, finished with 16 points. Higgins knocked down three three-pointers in the third quarter, and he also had five rebounds and six assists.
Oak Ridge hit nine three-point shots, compared to one for Clinton. That’s a difference of 24 points.
Other Wildcats scoring in the double digits at Wildcat Arena on Tuesday were junior Anthony Gibson (14 points, 3 rebounds); junior E.J. Bush (12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists); and senior Darel Middleton (10 points, 7 rebounds).
Clinton senior Tyler Thackerson led the Dragons (4-2, 0-1) with 17 points, and J’Quan Thomas added 11.
It was the 12th straight win in the series for Oak Ridge, according to broadcaster David Clary of Prepradio.com. Clinton last won in 2010.
The play by the Wildcats early in the season has already raised talk about whether they have a shot at a state title this season.
The Wildcats won the Tabernacle Baptist Thanksgiving Tournament championship game on Saturday, beating the home team, St. Georges Jaguars, 69-54. It was the team’s second trip to the Bahamas, and they finished 5-0. Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said the Wildcats probably played their best half of basketball during that tournament against St. Rita’s of Chicago, a team that has won four straight state championships.
“It was a clinic,” Green said of that game in the Bahamas on Friday.
The Wildcats had many second-chance scoring opportunities on Tuesday, thanks to their rebounding. Green said the boys “got to the glass well.
“Rebounding is key to what we do,” Green said.
The Wildcats got lots of easy looks against the Dragons, and they shared the ball well, as evidenced by the number of players in double digits, he said.
“We played well,” Green said.
Also Tuesday, the Lady Wildcats (3-1, 1-0) beat the Clinton Lady Dragons (0-6, 0-1), 55-28.
The Lady Wildcats extended their winning streak over Clinton to 57 games, dating back to 1990, according to WYSH Radio in Clinton. Oak Ridge capitalized on 30-plus turnovers by the Lady Dragons and cruised to a 55-28 win at home.
Mykia Dowdell led a balanced attack for Oak Ridge with 12 points, while Kelley Wandell, who missed the last two games after having her wisdom teeth removed last week, tallied 14 points for Clinton, WYSH said. Maddie Embleton added 10 points for CHS.
The Oak Ridge girls play Farragut at home at 6 p.m. Thursday, December 3, and the boys play Central at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Here are other area scores from Tuesday:
Powell 56 — Anderson County 23
Campbell County 48 — Karns 35
Harriman 59 — Oliver Springs 40
Grace Christian 70 — Midway 62
Powell 67 — Anderson County 42
Karns 78 — Campbell County 43
Harriman 68 — Oliver Springs 59
Grace Christian 92 — Midway 42
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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