Oak Grove and Hattiesburg High went down to the wire with a big shot at the buzzer in the championship game at the Hattiesburg Coca Cola Classic. The rival schools met for the second time this season.
After a back-and-forth battle for most of the game, Oak Grove lead for the majority of the first half and was up 37- 32 at the end of the first half.
Hattiesburg stormed back and took the lead, 46-45, with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter. The Tigers eventually extended that lead to 55-52 as time expired in the third.
At the 3:52 mark, Oak Grove’s Jay Barnes went to the free throw line after being fouled. He looked at his teammates and said, “Big time players make big time plays.” He drained both, backing up that big-time statement.
Hattiesburg had possession with 30 seconds remaining and trailing by three when senior shooting guard Jayden Harrell hit a three pointer from the top of the key with 4 seconds remaining to tie the ball game.
Oak Grove quickly threw the ball in to Blake Roberts as he heaved it up with a miss off the backboard as time expired in the fourth quarter. Referees called a huddle as they discussed a bottle thrown on the court by a Hattiesburg Tiger fan.
The Warriors were rewarded by getting the ball back as 3.5 seconds were added to the clock in which to go the length of the court.
After a timeout, Oak Grove’s Blake Roberts and Jay Barnes lined up at the free throw line to accept the ball. As they both went opposite ways, Roberts got the ball and turned around to find Barnes in motion towards Oak Grove’s basket. Barnes took the ball the length of the court and drained a running two pointer with time expiring. The Warrior fans were in a frenzy as the Warriors took the 72-70 victory.
“I thought we had to slow them down late,” Warrior Coach Laron Brumfield said. “We went to a 1-3-1 zone to try and slow them down. Jaylen Harrell hit a big time shot for them. The last play was drawn up for Jay or Blake to get the ball. Take one or two dribbles and get a nice look at a shot. Jay works on that running three shot a lot. Once he took it I felt good about it and a lot better when it went in.”
Oak Grove’s Barnes led the Warriors with 26 points and was also received tournament MVP Honors.
Early in the season, both matchups between the schools have gone down to the wire, setting up round three as the Tigers travel to Oak Grove Jan. 21. Even though both schools are almost halfway through the season, each team is playing in playoff mode.
“This is what it’s all about, man,” Brumfield said. “You’ve got two teams that are within 10 miles of each other, holiday season, and the gym is packed with playoff atmosphere. Later on down the road, this game will make both teams a heck of a lot better.”