Hattiesburg wins back and forth battle against rival Oak Grove.

By JESSE JOHNSON,

Hattiesburg won Tuesday night’s hard court battle 53-47 in a back and forth exchange between crosstown-rival Oak Grove.

Nick Walker lead the Tigers with 18 points and gave the Warriors its first defeat of the season as they hosted Oak Grove in front of a packed house.

Hattiesburg came out strong led by a strong defensive stance and a couple of field goals by senior Nick Walker, which started a 5-0 run to open the game in the first quarter.

After being held scoreless for almost half of the first quarter, the Warriors caught fire and went on a run of its own. Tyrus Crump got things going with a three-point make at the 4:40 mark followed by back-to-back three-point baskets by Blake Roberts. After a steal and one of two free throws made by Deon Hall, the Warriors found themselves up 10-5 with 10 unanswered points. The two teams exchanged a couple of more three pointers and finished the quarter 13-8 in the way of the Warriors.

Hattiesburg started out hot again with another 5-0 run, highlighted by a jump shot and a three pointer by Cameron Brown. This gave the two schools their first tie of the game with 5:02 remaining in the second quarter.

Two possessions later, Hattiesburg’s Nick Walker caught a pass on a fast break, dunking with both hands and sending the home team’s crowd into a frenzy.

The dunk gave the Tigers a spark and capped a 6-0 run, giving them a four-point lead with 3:30 remaining in the third. Oak Grove penetrated to get easy buckets and three layups, tying the game at 21 a piece at the half.

The third quarter was a back-and-forth exchange between the two with Oak Grove jumping out with six straight points, before Hattiesburg answered with seven. After six lead changes the Warriors finished out the quarter on a 10-3 run and a 42-37 lead at the end of the third.

The fourth quarter of play was all Hattiesburg as they again jumped out on a 7-0 run. Oak Grove applied pressure with a full-court press only to create fouls and send the Tigers to the foul line. Walker was fouled with 10 seconds remaining and knocked down two free throws to put the game out of reach, giving the Tigers the win and bragging rights for now.

Blake Roberts led the Warriors with 10 points.

The two schools seemed pretty evenly matched ,but it was the Tigers’ toughness that held strong at the end.

“Toughness,” head coach Ernie Watson said. “We have been through the ringer this year. Our tough schedule, thus far, has really paid off for tough games like this one.

It’s good to see the kids having fun out there. This was a great win against our cross- town rival. We will enjoy this one and live it up until we go to their place in January, until then we are the King of Hattiesburg.”

The two schools are set to square off again on January 21 as Oak Grove will play. Oak Grove (4-1) will host Tylertown (5-0) and Hattiesburg  (7-2) will host Pascagoula (5-2) oat 7 p.m. Friday Dec. 6.