KARNS—Karns threatened to tie the game in the final minute and possibly upset the fourth-ranked Wildcats, but Oak Ridge escaped with a 72-68 win over the Beavers on Tuesday.
Oak Ridge led by as many as 16 points with more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Karns whittled the lead down to two points, 70-68, with 1:04 remaining. Quincey Sibley of Karns, who finished with 11 points total, scored 10 of them in that 20-6 run, which lasted five minutes.
After a timeout with 45.7 seconds left, Oak Ridge (18-1, 6-0 District 3-AAA) had the ball with the two-point lead. But the Wildcats turned it over with 35.9 remaining.
That gave the Beavers, who were most productive in their 23-point fourth quarter, a chance to tie the game and possibly even take the lead.
But the Beavers (9-4, 5-2) were unable to score after the Wildcats’ turnover, and Oak Ridge junior Tajion Jones came down with a defensive rebound. After a battle for the basketball underneath the net, the Wildcats gained possession with 15.8 seconds left.
Karns then fouled Oak Ridge junior Tee Higgins, who had a game-high 18 points, on a pass inbounds coming out of a timeout. Higgins hit both free throws, giving the Wildcats a four-point 72-68 lead with 14.6 seconds on the clock and essentially putting the game out of reach for the Beavers.
Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance. It was the Wildcats’ first match since playing four games in the high-intensity Arby’s Classic basketball tournament in Bristol between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when Oak Ridge finished fifth.
“We didn’t play with great effort,” Green said after the narrow Tuesday night win at Karns. “Give Karns credit. They played a lot harder than we did. We didn’t compete.”
He said Oak Ridge played “loose with the ball,” had a crucial turnover late in the game, and missed wide open shots.
“If you play hard and you’re competing, you tend not to make those kinds of mistakes,” Green said.
Oak Ridge was most productive in the first half, scoring 44 points in the first two quarters compared to 28 in the final two. The Wildcats had six of their eight three-pointers in the first quarter. They had none in the second half.
It was a relatively slow-paced game for Oak Ridge. Green said the Wildcats didn’t get many defensive stops, which meant they were unable to play their normal faster-paced game.
In addition to Higgins’ 18 points, junior Anthony Gibson had 16 for the Wildcats, and senior Javien Johnson had 11.
Karns was led by junior guard Taylor Everett and Cartez Campbell, who had 15 each. Jordan Coffin scored 12 for the Beavers, and Sibley added his 11.
The Wildcats have two district games coming up at home. Oak Ridge will play Halls (5-11, 1-5) at Wildcat Arena at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 7, and Campbell County (9-7, 1-4) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 12.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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