Recognizing who had the hot hand paid big dividends for the Phoenix as they held off the hard-charging Columbia Raiders 51-48 in their regular season finale.
Freshman Trajen Chambers had a steady but quiet first three quarters, scoring just three points on six shot attempts. But as the game wound down, he heated up, tallying 10 of his team’s 14 points in the fourth, including the game-winning three pointer as the buzzer sounded.
“Our coaches and players have really developed a trust over the course of the season,” coach Kurt Russell said. “And that goes for the entire team, seniors to freshmen. So with Trajen holding the hot hand, (coach Jordan Beard) drew up a play where Devan (Yarber) could find him open in his favorite spot — a corner three.”
Just as designed, Yarber fed Chambers for the game winner.
While Chambers closed it out, the opportunity to do so came courtesy of the Phoenix leading seniors, Yarber and Darian Taylor. Oberlin jumped out to an early lead and continued to build on it, climaxing with a Taylor-led burst to close the half up 33-22.
The halftime advantage came largely on the strength of Yarber’s 10 points and six first half boards, while Taylor was busy posting 16 of his team high 22 points and collecting four steals.
“With a fairly young team, our seniors have really been instrumental in the development and growth of our underclassmen. At the same time, when the team needs someone to step up and make a play, count on these leaders to be there for that as well,” Russell said.
The Raiders, who were celebrating Senior Night, didn’t go down without a fight. They turned to senior swingman Josh Borling, who poured in 29 points on the evening for the home team as they climbed back into the game, erasing the 11-point halftime deficit and finally tying the game at 48-48 with just seconds remaining.
But seconds is all it takes. Following their final time-out, the Phoenix ran a play to their hot hand for the buzzer-beating win.
Complementing Taylor’s 22 point performance were Chambers with 13 and Yarber with 12. Yarber also picked off 11 rebounds to register his fifth double-double of the season.