Even after beating Harrison Central by 16 points in November, Oak Grove coach LaRon Brumfield expected a competitive rematch in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs on Saturday night. Four days prior, he and the Warriors used their first round bye to watch the Red Rebels eliminate St. Martin, and Brumfield walked away impressed.
“I told the guys it was not gonna be like the first time we played them,” he said. “They played hard. Extremely hard, and they got after us [tonight]. That’s what you expect. This is playoff basketball. It’s the state tournament and win or go home.”
In crunch time of Saturday’s game, it was clear Oak Grove was not prepared to go home. In fact, they’re now a win away from a trip to Jackson and the Class 6A semifinals. Propelled by balanced scoring and timely makes down the stretch, the Warriors (26-5) held on for a 61-54 win over Harrison Central.
After trailing by double digits in the third quarter, the Red Rebels made things interesting in the fourth, though. Behind a 4-0 scoring run, they took a 47-46 lead early in the period.
“We got a little complacent and started dribbling the ball up the court too much and didn’t pass the ball when we should have a few times,” Brumfield said. “That doesn’t get us in a rhythm.”
It didn’t take too long into the fourth for them to find one, though. Jay Barnes answered the scoring run with two of his 11 points in the game to put the Warriors ahead, and they never trailed again. Including Barnes’ basket, the Warriors closed the game out with a 15-7 scoring run to seal the win.
“Once we get going and in rhythm, I like our chances,” Brumfield said.
Barnes was one of five Warriors to score at least seven points in the victory. Dylan Brumfield led the way with 12, and Barnes and Brandon Tilley each poured in 11. Tate Ryder and Blake Roberts added nine and seven, respectively.
“We’ve been emphasizing that since August,” LaRon Brumfield said. “Play as a team. I think we can be a pretty good team when we play as a team. When we worry about who’s scoring, that’s when we get in trouble. If we can look at the stat sheet and have six or seven guys with seven or more points, we’re excited about that.”
With the win, the Warriors advance to face former region foe Brandon (26-5) in the third round on Tuesday. Brumfield says it’s a typical Brandon team.
“Brandon’s a tough team. Always has been,” he said. “They play hard-nosed defense. We got some game film on them and gotta start looking at it tonight.
“I told the kids we’re hungry, but we can’t play so they gotta feed us. Hopefully they’ll keep being hungry and feed us.”