By Bryan Davis
Last Friday night, Zach Bryan’s technical foul late in Oak Hill’s last district game at Manchester, might have been the difference in his team’s three-point loss to the Mavericks. On Monday night, the senior took a shot at redemption, tipping in the winning two-point shot at the buzzer for a 47-46 Raider win over the Hebron Christian Eagles.
As a team, Oak Hill struggled the final three quarters of the game to redeem themselves from a start that was nothing short of dismal against the visiting Eagles.
Hebron jumped on top with an early three-point shot. It seemed as if everything was falling the way of the Eagles, as Chad Smith threw up a second three-pointer to give his team a six-point advantage.
Pretty soon, Hebron had run the score up to 10-0 before Oak Hill would have a chance at answering. Finally, Steven Jones swished a three-pointer that gave the Raiders some life with 4:01 to go in the first period. Hebron’s Will Corbin Rogers answered that shot with one of his own to give Hebron a 15-6 lead.
Conner Baird would then exchange shots with Clay for a 17-6 Hebron lead. John Wesley Williamson would sink a free throw in the final seconds of the first to send the Raiders into the next frame, down by 10 points.
In that second period, Oak Hill’s offense finally came to life. Bryan got his first points of the night, with a shot from behind the three-point line to make it 17-10. Hebron junior Ben Pearson then sunk his first three points of the game to make it 20-10.
Oak Hill remained patient and did not panic. Slowly but surely, the Raiders began to pick away at the sizable lead.
Jones and Bryan would shoot back-to-back three’s for the Raiders, while Hebron threw up four consecutive free throw shots. Williamson, Jones and Reid Posey all threw up two-point shots for the Raiders, and it was Jones who put in a lay-up to tie the game 24-24.
With five seconds to go in the half, Hebron was able to reclaim the lead, taking a 26-24 advantage into the locker room.
The third quarter did not start out well for Oak Hill. Clay and Kevin Simmons both hit shots for Hebron to give the Eagles a 29-24 lead early on. Those three points, however, would prove to be the last for Hebron in the third.
The next six points came from the Raiders, as Bryan, Jones and Jacob Dickens all scored two-point shots to give Oak Hill their first lead of the night.
It was a slim 30-29 lead, but it came after Oak Hill had been down by as many as 10 points three different times in the first half.
With eight minutes to go, both offenses put their games in high gear. Pearson didn’t settle for being down for long, popping a quick three-point shot to give the Eagles a 32-30 lead.
After Jones swished a three of his own to reclaim the lead, Pearson threw up his third three pointer of the night to make it 35-32 Hebron.
Two-point shots were exchanged by the two teams before Jones got a look and shot another three-pointer to tie the game at 37-37.
The scoring would go back-and-forth, as Bryan would sink another three to make it 43-39 Oak Hill with 2:03 to play in regulation.
Neither team would let up, as Rogers was able to sink three free throws in a row for Hebron to make it 43-42 Oak Hill. Williamson shot a lay-up to make it 45-42. That was answered by Coggins’ two-pointer with a minute to go, making it 45-44 in the Raiders’ favor.
With 20 seconds remaining on the clock, Clay threw in his twelfth and thirteenth points of the night to make it 46-45 Hebron.
Oak Hill threw the ball in, and all the Raiders needed was a free throw to tie or a jump shot to win it. With the clock ticking fast, the Raiders got the ball under the goal.
A shot went up, but it bounced off the rim. As the Oak Hill and Hebron crowds gasped in the tension, the ball came down in Bryan’s direction. He met the ball in mid-air, tipped it in one last ditch effort.
As the ball passed through the rim and deep into the net, the clock trickled to double-zeros.
Bryan finished the game with 17 points, tied with fellow senior Jones.
Williamson had six and Baird scored three for the Raiders. Dickens and Posey had two each for Oak Hill.
For Hebron, Clay finished with 13. Pearson had 11, and Rogers scored 10 in the effort. Smith had six, Coggins scored four and Simmons had two points.
Oak Hill will have one last regular season game, a home match against Lamar tomorrow night. Then they will travel to Winston Academy next week for the district tournament.
For Hebron, that was the final regular season game. They will play at Macon Central on Tuesday night.
The Raiders will go into the playoffs with the No. 2 seed in their district. Hebron, which finished 6-4 in league play, takes the No. 3 spot going in.