Oak Hill has enjoyed the postseason this week with wins over North Delta School and Central Hinds Academy, the number one seed from district 3-AA. These two wins during the week placed the Raiders into the MAIS AA North State semi-finals and punched their ticket into the AA State Tournament.
Friday night the Raiders returned to the hardwood to take on the Leake Academy Rebels in their third match-up of the season. In the previous two meetings, the Rebels had gotten the better of Oak Hill defeating the Raiders both times.
After an edgy, back and forth contest, Oak Hill could not hold on to their claim in the game and fell to the Rebels 57-48.
In the first quarter, the Raiders and Leake looked evenly matched exchanging the lead four different times during the quarter. Oak Hill’s Drake Riley made a big impact down low pulling down rebounds and scoring 4 points to help his team in the early moments. The Rebels after the first eight minutes carried a slim lead into the second quarter 11-10 over the Raiders.
With such a tight score someone needed a spark to get the contest to go their direction. The Raiders got that spark from J.J. Bridges off the bench. Bridges scored 12 points in the second alone and swung the momentum in favor of Oak Hill. At halftime, the Raiders had gained a narrow lead 27-26.
Both teams opened the second half in an offensive funk compared to the first half. Drake Riley continued his great post play helping the Raiders stay neck and neck with Leake. The Rebels in third period used a 4-0 run to outscore Oak Hill 11-7 and take a 37-34 lead into the final quarter.
In the finale to the semi-final, Leake got into the double bonus and used the free throw line to seal the deal over the Raiders. Oak Hill’s John Wesley Williamson made a push for the Raiders in the final period scoring 9 points, but Williamson’s efforts were outmatched by a 93 percent shooting performance by the Rebels from the charity stripe which kept the Raiders at bay. After twelve consecutive made free throws, Leake had built a 55-46 lead with forty second remaining and held on even with a late Drake Riley basket, 57-48.
In the loss to Leake, Bridges led the way for Oak Hill putting in 13 points on the night. Also contributing with highlight offensive performances were Drake Riley (9 points), Jeb Stephens and Williamson, both with 8 points.
The loss to the Rebels only takes away a higher seeding in the AA State Tournament next week and does not eliminate the Raiders from postseason competition. Oak Hill took on Canton Academy in the third-seed game Saturday. Further coverage of the Raiders’ postseason will be in Tuesday’s Daily Times Leader.