Note: This story was last updated at 11:30 p.m.
Playing for his team, senior Darel Middleton had one of his best games as an Oak Ridge Wildcat, scoring 18 points and picking up 15 rebounds during a 94-66 win over Central on Friday.
It was the most memorable performance by Middleton, a 6-foot-6 post, since he scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds against Memphis East in the state quarterfinal game in March.
“I just felt like I owed my team,” said Middleton, who said he’s gotten into a little trouble this year. “I gave them my all tonight and from now on.”
Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said Middleton is playing a lot harder this year than he did last year.
“He played well,” Green said. “He’s been playing well.”
Middleton had 14 rebounds during a Thanksgiving tournament in the Bahamas. That was his previous rebounding high. He was also named to the all-tournament team.
Green said Middleton is playing with more effort this year than he did last year and has the required skill level, size, and strength. He can get a lot of short, easy baskets on post feeds and offensive rebounds, Green said.
“When you play hard, good things happen,” the coach said. “He’s playing a lot harder right now than he did last year.”
Oak Ridge (9-0, 2-0 District 3-AAA) again had five players in double digits. Junior Tee Higgins scored 15 points against Central, and junior Tajion Jones had 12. Tyshawn Young and Anthony Gibson both came off the bench to also score 12 each.
Junior E.J. Bush knocked down eight points and pulled down eight rebounds, and senior guard Geevantay Gee had 10 assists.
Central (5-3, 0-2) was led by Jaquez Johnson, who had a game-high 20 points, and Isaiah Hinton, who had 16. Robert Emory scored 13 for the Bobcats.
The Wildcats play at Powell (6-1, 2-0) in another district game on Tuesday, December 8.
Also Friday, the Lady Wildcats beat the Lady Bobcats 77-19. The girls had four players in double digits: Mykia Dowdell with a game-high 21, Jada Guinn with 15, Jasmine Hembry with 13, and Shatyrah Copeland with 10.
“We played well, especially in the second half,” Coach Paige Green said. The girls were up by 35-11 at the half.
The Lady Wildcats play their best with four players in double digits, Green said, and they like an up-tempo style that features deflections and steals that can be converted into runs and layups.
The girls game against the Lady Panthers (2-4, 1-0) starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The boys game starts at 7:30.
See photos from the Friday night game by Julio Culiat here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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