PETAL – A 26-point third quarter was the major push Oak Grove needed to come up with a 60-39 win over rival Petal on Friday night.
Despite the 21-point win, the first half between the two teams was highly contested. Both Petal and Oak Grove struggled to find an offensive rhythm. However, Petal was able to take advantage of the issue early to keep the game close.
According to Oak Grove coach LaRon Brumfield, his team did not enter the court mentally prepared and was overlooking Petal (6-2, 0-2) in the first half.
“I don’t think mentally we were really focused,” Brumfield said. “I thought we came out and really thought that we were just going to walk on the court, and you can’t play like that. I thought our usual approach wasn’t where it needed to be, and it showed.”
The Warriors trailed early 3-0 and didn’t score their first basket until after three minutes in the first quarter. Despite the slow start, the Warriors stay ahead at the end of the quarter 10-7.
“I thought we came out real sluggish in the first half,” Brumfield said. “I thought both teams played real hard in the first half. I tell my teams all the time that when we prepare, especially for district games, you have got to be prepared for a team to come out like they are fighting for their life.
“I don’t think either team just got in a good rhythm. When we came out in the second half, the third quarter especially, we tightened up on defense and got some easy baskets. That’s a big difference.”
Much like the first quarter, both Petal and Oak Grove’s offense failed to find consistency. The Panthers did manage to pull ahead 16-15, but the Warriors went on a 5-0 to hold a 20-16 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Oak Grove (7-0, 1-0) seized momentum and opened the half with a 10-0 run. The Warrior defense took control of the game with its transition defense, which forced several turnovers and created easy baskets for Oak Grove.
“I thought defensively in that first half we did a pretty good job,” Petal coach Todd Kimble said. “Second half, I thought we did a horrible job. We have got guys that are out of position defensively. I have got guys that are supposed to be in help that aren’t in help.
“We have an immature, young team. When you cannot execute an offense, it’s hard to beat a good team. I thought we were able to get the ball inside. When we did, we had success. But all night long, my guards had trouble getting it in there. We had trouble on offense and moving the ball on the perimeter. It’s hard to get it in there if you let the defense sit still. That’s what happened a lot.”
Oak Grove’s Jay Barnes spearheaded the shooting frenzy by scoring 15 of his 29 points in the quarter. According to Barnes, who was also 10-of-10 behind the free-throw line, the two keys to his team’s success were changing its mentality at halftime and better communicating on defense.
“We weren’t playing how we usually play,” Barnes said. “We were lollygagging and thinking that it was going to be easy and thinking that we just had to walk on the floor to win. We had to realize we had to actually play the game, and once we did, we handled business.
“We just spaced out the floor, which made it easy for me to get to the lane and get crafty around the basket. We were communicating better on the defensive end and swinging the ball better. Once we came out in the third quarter, we were sharing the ball better, which put us in better positions to score the basket.”
In total, Oak Grove hit four 3-pointers in the quarter to outscore Petal 26-7 in the quarter and extend the lead 46-23.
“We were talking on defense in the first half, and we wanted to pick the talking up,” Barnes said. “We wanted to make sure we were quick to getting to our spots. We started getting some deflections and easy baskets, and that made a big difference. That let our offense get into a rhythm. Once we got into the flow of our offense, we were rolling pretty good.”
In the fourth quarter, Petal did manage to find offensive success and outscored the Warriors 16-14 and strung together a 10-0 run, but the effort proved to be too little too late.
“We got caught behind a screen twice,” Kimble said. “They made two 3-pointers off of that. They are just better than we are in transition. If we don’t get back and get ready then that puts us in a horrible situation.
“I thought a lot of times we had guys try to do our own thing. We make three or four passes in our motion, and then I have a guy that says ‘I’m fixing to make it happen,’ and I thought that happened a lot. We are just out of control. We’re struggling with individual guys doing their job. We talk about that all week. Until each guy learns to do his job, then we will continue to see stuff like this. We did it all night long. Tonight, Oak Grove was just way better than us.”
Petal was led by Omarion Carson, who scored 16 points, and Cam Lewis, who totaled 11 points.
Along with Barnes, Oak Grove was led by Rahmil Thompson, who scored 12 points and Dylan Brumfield, who tallied nine points.