Note: This story was updated at 3 p.m.
The first half was competitive. The second half wasn’t.
Oak Ridge led Powell by only seven points, 40-33, at halftime at Wildcat Arena on Thursday.
But Oak Ridge (24-2, 12-0 District 3-AAA) quickly opened up a large lead early in the third quarter. Junior guard Tajion Jones knocked down three consecutive three-point shots in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter. Then, about a minute later, he scored a field goal to widen the Oak Ridge lead to 52-33. That was 11 points for Jones in the first 2.5 minutes of the second half.
The Wildcats, undefeated in the district, ended up outscoring the Panthers 28-6 in the third quarter. Powell (13-8, 7-5) never recovered.
Jones finished with a game-high 22 points. The 6-foot-4 junior also had 22 points in the last meeting between the two teams, a game that Oak Ridge won 78-61 on December 8.
After the Thursday night game, Jones said he had had wide-open shots, and his teammates drove the ball and kicked it to him.
Hitting those shots gave everybody confidence, he said.
“The whole team gets sparked,” Jones said.
Senior forward Javien Johnson had one of his best nights, scoring 20 points and pulling down nine rebounds, or close to a double-double.
“I played with more confidence, and I played more aggressively than I normally do,” Johnson said.
He said Coach Aaron Green told the team at halftime that Powell was shooting 52 percent from the field, and the Wildcats had to make some defensive adjustments in the second half. Green says a defense is playing well when it can keep an opposing team to 35 to 38 percent shooting or less.
“They played well in the first half,” Green said of Powell. Oak Ridge didn’t keep the Panthers out of the paint in the first half, and the Wildcats guarded better and forced tougher shots in the second, he said.
Of Johnson, he said: “I thought he played about as good as he has all year.”
The Wildcats were able to limit Powell senior post Conley Hamilton, who scored 22 points the last time the two teams met, to six points total on Thursday.
Oak Ridge had two other players in double digits: junior guard Tee Higgins with 11 and junior Anthony Gibson with 10.
Powell was led by junior Quinton Fields with 14 points and senior Jackson Steely with 10.
The Wildcats made twice as many three-point shots as Powell on Thursday: 8 to 4.
Oak Ridge plays at home again tonight (Friday, January 29) against Gibbs (11-11, 4-7). The girls game starts at 6 p.m., and the boys game begins at 7:30.
Green and Johnson said Gibbs can shoot three-point shots, and Johnson said the Wildcats will have to try to keep Gibbs off the three-point line.
The Wildcats have five games left in the regular season and three at home.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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