Gallery by Greg Barnett
Princeton – Oak Hill head coach Benitez Jackson hoped Friday’s rematch against Princeton would end differently than the Jan. 4 meeting between the two – a 57-47 Princeton overtime win.
Instead it was more of the same.
Princeton overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime again, beating sectional foe Oak Hill 65-57 Friday night at Princeton High.
Having not played a game since that Jan. 4 meeting due to quarantines, the Tigers were rusty early, falling behind 11-3 in the opening quarter, shooting just 29 percent from the field in the first half. Powered by 13 first-half points from Jacob Perdue, the visiting Red Devils led 27-19 at the half and 39-32 after three quarters, scoring the first three points of the fourth to extend their lead to 10.
Then Chase Hancock happened.
Limited to just two points through the first three quarters, the sharpshooting guard erupted for 13 in the fourth to power Princeton’s comeback.
“I think he found a flow,” Princeton coach Robb Williams said. “We’ve been waiting for that. I’ve actually mentioned in a couple interviews that I’ve been waiting for my shooters to shoot and he did in the second half. He got down on himself in the first half and I just kept telling him ‘Let the game come to you.’ He was trying to force stuff and when he let the game come to him he started hitting those.”
Following a Trey Foster layup that staked Oak Hill to a 42-32 lead, Hancock pulled up and converted on a 3-pointer, adding a free throw on the following possession. A layup from Nick Fleming and a pair of free throws from Kham Hurte slashed the deficit to two with a free throw from Oak Hill’s Ethan Vargo-Thomas stopping the bleeding momentarily.
Another bucket from Hancock made it a one-point game and Fleming, who combined with Hurte to score nine points off the bench, gave the Tigers the lead with a layup.
“It makes it tough,” Williams said. “We have 10 kids that can play and each game is a different game. We have somebody that might have a good game tonight but might not play as much tomorrow. There are different matchups. It makes it tough but tonight Nick was lackluster in the first half, we had a discussion and he turned it on. He got some loose balls for us, grabbed some big rebounds and Kham played good defense up top.”
A jumper from Kris Joyce made it a 46-43 game in favor of of the Tigers but a Red Devil rally gave the visitors a 3-point lead with under 30 seconds to play.
That set the stage for Hancock who delivered, nailing a stepback 3 with 12 seconds left to tie the game at 54.
The final possession of regulation was an empty one for the visitors who failed to get a shot off. It haunted them as the overtime period belonged to the Tigers.
Joyce scored six of his 12 points in the extra period, as the hosts outscored Oak Hill 11-3 in overtime to secure the win.
“They got the momentum and I didn’t think we guarded well in the fourth quarter,” Jackson said. “We were getting blown by. They were blowing by our guards like we were standing still. That’s something we had to do all game. We were able to pressure them the first three quarters and the fourth we were playing back on our heels. Give them credit though. They hit some tough shots but we didn’t do a good job. We didn’t finish at the basket and we had some costly turnovers where we just threw it away. The biggest issue is we didn’t guard.
“We tried to go a little bit smaller to get guys where we could guard and switch everything but the Hancock kid hit a tough shot at the end. They were just blowing by us though.”
Working in the Tigers’ favor was also their ability to capitalize on the offensive glass. They pulled down 13 offensive rebounds, limiting Oak Hill to just four. It led to eight more shot attempts for the Tigers.
“They killed us on the boards,” Jackson said. “They dominated us on the boards at Oak Hill too. Believe it or not that’s probably half of the rebounds they got at Oak Hill. They’re big strong guys with the basketball and they’re physical. We don’t have a lot of sizer and the size we do have, we have smaller guys. I thought we battled oaky, but I just think our defense was bad leading into overtime and we didn’t make shots. That’s a bad recipe.”
Hancock led Princeton with 15 points while forward Grant Cochran added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Joyce was the third Tiger in double figures, scoring 12.
Perdue splashed in a game-high 18 points for the Red Devils while Ethan Vargo-Thomas and Trevor Kelly adde 10 each
Princeton improves to 6-2 and will travel to Virginia High on Saturday.
Oak Hill drops to 5-5 and will travel to Liberty on Monday.
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OH: 15 12 12 15 3 – 57
P: 9 10 13 22 11 – 65
Jacob Perdue 18, Omar Lewis 6, Leonard Farrow 7, Samuel Crist 4, Trey Foster 2, Ethan Vargo-Thomas 10, Trevor Kelly 10
Nick Fleming 4, Davon Edwards 4, Chase Hancock 15, Kham Hurte 5, Great Cochran 11, Kris Joyce 12, EJ Washington 5, Jon Wellman 9
3-point goals – OH: 1 (Perdue); P: 4 (Hancock 2, Hurte 1, Joyce 1). Fouled Out – OH: Lewis