During the pre-game talk, it became clear to coach Kurt Russell that little additional motivation was needed for Friday’s game.
“Earlier in the season, Lutheran West had beaten us at home in a game that the boys felt we should have won,” Russell said. “Our kids were ready and looking forward to avenging that defeat.”
It didn’t take long for the Phoenix to make their emphatic opening statement. From the opening tip, Oberlin raced out to a 17-2 advantage and closed the first quarter with a 17-6 advantage.
In the second quarter, the Phoenix kept pouring it on, led by Giles Harrell who tallied all nine of his points in the first half. By halftime, the Phoenix, who led by as many as 17 at one point, were sitting on a 33-19 advantage.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t let down in the second half,” Russell said. “Even though we’d lost two straight games against top teams — Wellington (18-2) and Keystone (16-4) — we were right even at halftime of both contests.”
With solid defense backing up a consistent offense, the Longhorns never threatened in the second half. The Phoenix extended their lead even as the player rotation expanded to include the full bench.
Seven Oberlin players scored during the contest, led by senior Devan Yarber with 19. Overall, four Phoenix ended in double figures, with Aaron Hopkins chipping in 13 points, Darian Taylor adding 12, and Trejan Chambers 11. The point parade continued with Harrell’s nine, Greg Richardson with two points, and senior Jeremiah Austin with one.
“The last few games the team has played solid basketball,” Russell said. “The younger players are finding more confidence and trusting the process. We look forward to building on this confidence and trust in the remaining games.”
In what was touted during the pre-season as a rebuilding year, Oberlin has fashioned a respectable 8-13 mark (6-9 in PAC) on the campaign. Oberlin travels to Columbia on Friday to close the regular season against the Raiders. The Phoenix will open their Division 4 sectional tournament play hosting the Lake Ridge Academy Royals on Tuesday, Feb 27. Tip time is slated for 7 p.m.