JACKSONVILLE - Oakleaf High School’s boys basketball team waited around for an extra 30 minutes as Robert E. Lee High’s bus found its way to Ribault High and their noon game in the Bernard Wilkes …
JACKSONVILLE - Oakleaf High School’s boys basketball team waited around for an extra 30 minutes as Robert E. Lee High’s bus found its way to Ribault High and their noon game in the Bernard Wilkes Christmas Classic on January 2 before igniting to a fast-start 18-7 lead en route to a 56-16 win that capped a strong holiday two weeks for coach Jason Price.
“We get back into district play when we resume school after games with Clay and Orange Park (Jan. 4-5), but the second half of the season starts next week with Bartram Trail (January 11),” said Price, 6-2, with a 2-1 slate in district 4-8A trailing leader Creekside (11-2, 3-0). “Bartram Trail is the meat of the second half schedule. If we can’t knock off Creekside; we have a nice rivalry, then I hope someone else can get them.”
Price’s lament centered around the district 4-8A championship tournament last year that Creekside knocked Oakleaf out of in the semifinal round. After exchanging regular season wins over each other, Creekside beat Oakleaf in the district semifinal then won the district title over Gainesville Buchholz then lost in the region finals against eventual 8A runnerup Tallahassee Lincoln in the state semifinal round. Buchholz lost to Robert E. Lee in the region quarterfinal.
Over the holiday, Oakleaf traveled to take on opponents far and wide and came away with wins in Georgia at the Cook County Hornet Classic over Fitzgerald (75-61) and Cook (55-21) high schools after a big 73-54 win over 7A-Lake Region at the Jenkins Arena in Lakeland and district wins over Fleming Island (51-50) and Buchholz (53-41).
Price saw senior Deonte Sherwood, a guard, as the focal point of the energized Knights attack.
“Against Cook, Deonte scored 33 points with Kenny Thomas adding another 20 as we are not beholded to one or two key guys for wins,” said Price. “Kenny also is leading our team in assists from a wing man position. We’re doing a better job of moving the ball around and getting better shots.”
Against Lee, Oakleaf opened with steal to layup display that started with Sherwood pickpocketing Lee’s point guard and rifling a scoring pass to Willie Edwards to open the game. From there, Thomas had a steal, Sherwood again with another assist to Edwards, center Chantz Williams with two blocked shots and Thomas with a three pointer at the first quarter buzzer and the score at 15-5.
“We planned to run five or six guys on their point guard; Jones, who is the leading area scorer with five 30-point games to this point,” said Price.
Thomas would land his second three-pointer, get a steal to a Saich Williams layup before the stands got lit with a steal from Quintez Johnson that set up a savage dunk from 6’-4” Kameron Mckenzie that scored the game 25-7 with two minutes left in the half.
Oakleaf continued the onslaught for the 56-16 win.
Price has seen his up-tempo attack as fruitful and pointed to a video session for the team after the Creekside loss and before the Fleming Island win; 51-50 buzzerbeater at Fleming Island High School.
“We didn’t practice between the Creekside loss and the Fleming Island game,” said Price. “’We watched the video of the Creekside game. It was eye opening. We saw the evidence of the two or three things we have to do. After that, they came out and did those two or three things better and we beat Fleming Island.”
Price said the team took from the Creekside loss and moved forward much quicker than previous teams and also produced the current five game win streak.
“In year’s past, the loss to Creekside would have taken a week to recover from,” said Price. “The video showed a lot that the kids could take and refocus with.”