Following a 57-48 loss at the hands of Leake Academy, the Oak Hill Academy Raiders found themselves in the consolation game of the AA North State Tournament. The loss to Leake on Friday did not eliminate the Raiders from postseason contention but placed them with a lower possible seed heading into this week’s state tournament. Standing in the way of Oak Hill for the third seed was district 2-AA mate Canton Academy.
The Canton Panthers came into Saturday’s consolation game after a loss to eventual North State champions Marshall Academy. The Raiders’ encounter with Canton marked the fourth time this season the two squads had met up in competitive play this year. In the previous meetings, the Panthers had gotten the better of Oak Hill getting all three victories.
The fourth meeting once again fell in favor of Canton as the Raiders just seemed to run out of gas in the second half and a 19 percent field goal percentage did little to help. At halftime, Oak Hill only trailed 21-15, but by the end of the contest the deficit swelled to 52-29 putting the Raiders into the fourth seed out of the north half.
“We just ran out of gas, hit a wall,” commented head coach Brian Middleton about the loss to Canton, “We did not do the essential things all night.”
Oak Hill’s Jeb Stevens opened the scoring for the game and gave the Raiders their only lead of the game 2-0 at the 6:50 mark. After a lead change and tie, Canton and Oak Hill were knotted up 7-7 with 2:56 left in the first period. In the closing minutes, the Panthers went on a 9-2 run and carried a 16-9 lead over the Raiders in the second quarter. A very low-scoring second period ensued as the Raiders attempted to find a way to close the 16-9 gap. Going 4 of 8 from the free throw line, Oak Hill slightly outscored the Panthers 6-5 during the quarter’s proceedings and trimmed the Canton lead to six, 21-15.
The second half put Canton in the driver seat as the Raiders’ day turned sour. Oak Hill could not match the scoring of the Panthers. Canton used a 9-0 run to outscore the Raiders 17-4 and bring their lead to double figures 38-19. In the fourth quarter, the Panthers wrapped the game up over the Raiders and clinched the third seed over the Raiders 52-29.
Stephens left a positive mark on the game for the Raiders putting in 9 points and pulling down 6 rebounds as well. Also putting in a good performance was John Wesley Williamson with 7 points and 4 rebounds on the night.
Falling to the Panthers, Oak Hill now will enter into the AA State Tournament as the fourth seed and will take on Central Private Academy of Central, Louisiana, the AA South State Tournament Champions. The Raiders and Central Private will tip off at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday night. The AA State Tournament will take place on the campus of Canton Academy.
“Top eight in the state for AA, it is a good accomplishment,” said Coach Middleton about growing his program, “we want to get to that next level and it just comes with its lumps.”