The Raiders, over the holiday break, participated in the Immanuel Christmas Tournament. Oak Hill split their two games at the tournament with one loss to Columbus High School on Thursday and a tight victory over single-A Winona Christian 64-60 on Friday.
Friday night’s contest was a close one for the Raiders as they fell behind during the second and third quarters. But Oak Hill came roaring back in the fourth quarter with the help of John Wesley Williamson (16 points) contributing 8 points in the fourth quarter comeback. Also playing a major role during the final quarter rally, Drew Riley was downright gutsy and fought hard on both sides of the ball.
“We were missing a couple of kids tonight,” said Head Coach Brian Middleton after the win over Winona Christian, “our guys fought through adversity and it was almost like nothing would go our way; it was somewhat ugly, but I would rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss.”
Missing players seems to be a theme for the Raiders during the first two months of the 2012-2013 season. Adversity is definitely the key word for Oak Hill as injury has plagued many of the players on the Raider roster. Even during the Winona Christian game, Oak Hill’s J.J. Bridges picked up a foot or ankle injury that may even have him sitting out for an extended period of time.
“A lot of injuries early on in the season,” commented Coach Middleton about fighting against the plague of injuries, “we are still trying to find our rhythm and our true rotation.”
Even though fighting injuries, Oak Hill has been rather successful on the court. The Raiders have picked up their first two district wins over Immanuel Christian and Manchester Academy while also competing well in non-district play with a great win over North Delta of Batesville.
Yet come January, Coach Middleton knows his focus as well as his Raiders’ focus will turn to closing out district play. An arduous task faces Oak Hill when two back-to-back nights of tough district opponents sit in front of the Raiders. A trip south to face Canton Academy on Friday night January 11 will soon be forgotten as Oak Hill returns home Saturday January 12 to take on district favorite Leake Academy.
“We don’t have much time to fool around come January,” said Middleton in regards to the Canton Academy and Leake Academy games, “with Canton and Leake back-to-back it’s going to be tough, winning those two games though will place us into the first seed for the district tournament.”
The coveted first seed is a great goal for a team that is very beat-up heading towards the final stretch of a long regular season. With a little bit more to gain, the Raiders may find their spark and a little more grit that may propel them to district success. Oak Hill’s first action of the New Year will come against Marshall Academy when the Raiders travel to Holly Springs to seek revenge against the Patriots on January 5.