Originally, Oak Grove wasn’t even supposed to participate in Rumble in the South, one of Mississippi’s premier basketball tournaments. But after a team dropped out earlier this month, the Warriors gladly accepted a late invitation. And on Monday, it was obvious LaRon Brumfield’s team belonged in the stacked field of competition and inside the ARC, a $14 million gymnasium recently opened on the campus of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Jackson.
After a slow first quarter in which they trailed Murrah 19-11, Oak Grove’s stacked backcourt of Tate Ryder and Brandon Tilley took over in the second and third, shooting the Warriors to a 38-11 scoring run and a lopsided win over the Mustangs, 70-43.
“We were kinda caught up in the moment early, and we wanted to relish the moment and be excited about being here,” Brumfield said. “But we also wanted to make sure we played our brand of basketball.”
Ryder finished with a game-high 23 points on the way to earning MVP honors, and Tilley added 20 off the bench. The duo combined for five three-pointers, and as a team the Warriors knocked down seven.
“We got so many shooters on the team,” Brumfield added. “Sometimes you have to pick who you’re gonna guard. They both were just on tonight. When they’re on, that opens the floor up for everybody. They made some huge shots, and when they got hot, we were like ‘Get it to them, let ‘em shoot it’.”
The shooting spree and better effort on the defensive end made their struggles in the first quarter feel like a distant memory, according to Brumfield.
“When they picked it up and started playing, I think we were really just a dominant force,” he said.
Oak Grove improved to 17-4 with the win. After a three-game losing streak earlier this month, the Warriors have now won two in a row with victories over Murrah on Monday and rival Petal last Friday.
“I’m excited about where we are right now,” Brumfield said. “We still got a ways to go, so we gotta keep fighting and keep getting better and get ready for the next part of the season.”
Oak Grove returns to action Tuesday night at Hattiesburg.
Center Hill 78, Petal 53
The Panthers hung tough with the Mustangs for two quarters, entering halftime with the game tied at 33-33. But things spiraled out of control for Petal in the second half. Center Hill, ranked No. 4 in the state, used a 19-6 scoring run in the third quarter to seize control and pull away for the win. Caleb McGill finished with a game-high 22 points for the Panthers, who fell to 15-4 with the loss. Petal returns to action Tuesday night at home against West Jones.