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Oak Hill boys hold off Peru's late charge

BY KEVIN HELFRICH - ctreporter@indy.rr.com

CONVERSE – A few weeks ago this same Oak Hill boys’ basketball team may not have responded as well to late game adversity.

After squandering a 12-point fourth quarter lead, these Golden Eagles didn’t flinch. Instead, behind a combination of veteran and underclassman, Oak Hill made just enough plays down the stretch for a 55-51 win over Peru in a non-conference tilt on Friday night.

“We talked late in the huddle about how we need to do things to make winning plays as opposed to just trying to keep from losing a game.” Golden Eagles coach Kevin Renbarger said. “That is probably the biggest step we took in this game.”

With the game knotted at 51-all, senior Landry Ozmun found a crease to the basket, splitting a pair of defenders and put it in off the glass for a 53-51 advantage with just 1:25 remaining.

“I was just trying to pull the ball out and see what we had,” Ozmun said. “There wasn’t much there, coach had talked all week about going north and south and I just took it in.”

Plagued by turnovers in every quarter, Peru committed their 24th on the night on the ensuing possession and were forced to foul Oak Hill junior Kody Dubois with the clock winding down to just 13 seconds.

Dubois, a junior who hadn’t attempted a free throw all season, stepped to the line and calmly sealed the game as both shots drew nothing but net.

“We put him in specifically as we had our best free throw lineup on the floor,” Renbarger said. “He had sat for a long period of time, but he nailed them both and that showed a lot of guts, right there.”

Oak Hill had perhaps their most efficient night from the line as a team connecting on 11-of-12.

The Golden Eagles led for 18 consecutive minutes between early in the second quarter to nearly midway through the final quarter.

However, D.J. Fuller sparked a scoring flurry for Peru as they reeled off 14 straight in less than four minutes. Fuller finished with a team-high 17 points, registering three conventional 3-point plays during the run and a Michael Chandler 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Tigers a 49-47 lead.

“It was a combination of a few things, it had a little bit to do with our shot selection,” Renbarger noted. “Right before we took a timeout we had stopped playing on the defensive end completely. We needed to refoucus a little bit.”

It took a rebound basket form Golden Eagles sophomore center Tristen Hayes to stem the tide and bring the score back to even (49-all).

Oak Hill also led the majority of the first half, thanks in large part to the play on both ends of the floor by senior Tahj Johnson. Johnson scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the opening half, including a pair of buckets that came after he stole the ball and took it the other way.

“I just came out and did everything I had to do to help us get a win,” Johnson said. “Our defense the last few games has been really good.”

Justin Twigg, who had seen limited minutes scored the last four points off the opening half as Oak Hill gained its largest advantage of the half at 35-24.

“Give credit to Oak Hill, they came out more ready,” Tigers coach Eric Thompson said. “They hadn’t played for awhile, but we just did too little to late.”

Konnor Cabe was the third Golden Eagle to reach double figures with 10 points and six rebounds.

Oak Hill (3-7) will take its two game win streak on the road to Southwood on Tuesday.

Payton Harts led as the Golden Eagle junior varsity cruised to a 54-26 victory. The 5-foot-9, junior guard poured in a game-high 16 points as the Golden Eagles improved to 8-2 on the season.