Playing against a solid squad in Brady Hunt, Neil Marshall, and the Delta Eagles in their final regular season contest on Thursday evening, the Oak Hill Golden Eagles put together an excellent performance despite the final result.
Oak Hill put on a masterful defensive clinic, keeping both Hunt and Marshall in check throughout the evening, but some struggles on the offensive end, particularly in the second and third quarters, proved to be their downfall in a 46-39.
“I think we played at a high level,” Oak Hill Head Coach Kevin Renbarger said. “We obviously want to win on a de facto Senior Night…but I think this game does more for preparation for Tuesday.”
Defensively, Oak Hill held Hunt, who came in averaging 22 points a game, to just 10 points, forcing him out of the paint and into areas where he was not as comfortable shooting the basketball. No matter who guarded him, whether it was Blake Fox, Kyle Turanchick, Kian Hite, Mason McKinney, or a combination, each did an outstanding job of rendering the talented post player ineffective.
“You just have to give credit to the kids, really,” Renbarger said. “Fox, Turanchick, Hite, McKinney, they all rose to the challenge in regards to physicality. They were physical with him and were able to push him from the block, where he’s shooting almost 70 percent, to out on the perimeter.
“Defensively, I’ve got no complaints with what we did. We lost this game on the offensive end of the floor.”
The Golden Eagles came out firing in the first quarter, scoring 13 points, Oak Hill’s sharpshooting sophomore, Landon Biegel, shot the lights out, scoring 11 of those points on four-of-six shooting and three-of-four from beyond the arc.
However, in the second quarter, Delta made adjustments, switching to a 2-3 zone and focusing their attention containing Biegel. The strategy worked, as Delta held Oak Hill off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes in the second quarter. The Eagles outscored the Golden Eagles 11-4 in the period, taking a 24-17 lead into the halftime break.
For the game, Biegel and Hite combined to shoot 14-of-25 and score 35 points, while the rest of the Golden Eagles combined for just four points on two-of-13 from the field.
“They were pretty committed to taking him away in the second quarter and taking all of their zone and shifting in his direction,” Renbarger said. “We are going to need people to step up to score. Kian obviously did that tonight, but now we’ve got to find somebody else who will continue to do that as well.”
Delta built their lead to as many as eight in the third, but a little over midway through the third quarter, Hite found his offensive groove. With the Eagles up 29-21, he hit his first three of the evening to cut Delta’s advantage to five, before making another triple in the final 30 seconds to make it a six-point game heading into the final frame.
Hite stayed red hot in the fourth quarter, making three more shots, including another triple to give the Golden Eagles a 37-35 advantage with 4:01 to play. In all, Hite hit five shots in a row, putting the Golden Eagles in a position to win the contest.
“That’s what we need out of him – to be what he has always been,” Renbarger said. “When we are good, it’s a direct relationship to how he plays on both ends of the floor. When he executes on offense and plays hard on defense, we are usually in basketball games and we can be at least competitive. He’s had a couple of really good games this week.
However, it was not meant to be, as the Eagles outscored the Golden Eagles 11-2 the rest of the way to secure their victory.
Oak Hill now shifts their attention to Sectional 23, where they will face off against bitter rival Mississinewa in their first round matchup on Tuesday.
“They are awfully good,” Renbarger said. “They are similar to Delta in some ways, but I also think that they are potentially better. I think their complimentary players are better. It’s a tall task for us, but we will do what we can over the next four or five days and get prepared.”