Golden Eagles drop hard fought contest to Blackford

Playing against Luke Brown is a challenge for any team.

And despite a tremendous effort from the Golden Eagles on Friday night, they could overcome another remarkable performance from Blackford’s star point guard, falling by a score of 76-72. 

Oak Hill fell behind 26-16 after the first quarter of play, but bounced back nicely in the second quarter, tying the contest at 42-42.

The Golden Eagles pulled ahead in the third, and held a five-point lead late in the contest, but could not hold it. 

 “We made some very crucial errors on both ends of the floor at the end of the game and give Blackford credit in that they made the winning plays,” Oak Hill Head Coach Kevin Renbarger said. “Blackford was very good and very efficient from the field. They shot 19 free throws and connected on 80 percent. What made it even more challenging was that Brown was 54 percent from three and most were very deep which caused us to struggle covering rebounds.”

Brown finished the game with 38 points on 13-of-25 shooting and five-of-six from the free throw line. 

“He shoots 75% from two and is a 90% free throw shooter. He leads the state in assists and most of those are created by getting into the lane,” Renbarger said. “We wanted to contain him and Stroble to taking tough threes. We did a poor job in the first quarter. We lost them both several times but really from that point forward we did a good job. He was 7-13 from three and most were beyond the volleyball line with a hand in the face.  It’s really the only time I can remember saying we were by in large comfortable with where the majority of the shots were made. Some were too easy from both of them, but when a couple of players are going to hit over 50 percentfrom beyond 30 feet from the basket, it’s going to put unusual stress on the defense.”

Despite the loss, Renbarger continues to be pleased with his team’s progress here in the second half of the season. 

“We were pretty good offensively,” Renbarger said. We limited ourselves to eight turnovers, 67 percent from the foul line and 43 percent from three. The kids got down 10 points in the first quarter with the Blackford typical first quarter shooting barrage and they fought back. It was a big atmosphere and Blackford played really well and shot really well.  Our kids competed, which for this group is a huge step forward.”

Tahj Johnson led the Golden Eagles with 22 points, while Tristen Hayes finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Ryan Pederson also collected a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards, while both Clay McCorkle and Kody Dubois each scored 11. 

Oak Hill will be back in action on Tuesday against Tipton. 

“Tipton is probably a better overall team than Blackford,” Renbarger said. “They have a dynamic college level basketball player and complimentary players that are very tough. They are well coached. It is going to be a great challenge for us, and the way our kids are playing right now,  I am looking forward to the challenge and hopefully [they will] use the experience to get better and closer to a complete game.”

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