By BRYAN URBACH
Coming into Friday night, people were expecting a high scoring shootout for the No. 1 Oakwood Panthers and the No. 7 Douglass Indians.
Little did they know that a defensive battle would break out and the No. 1 team in the Class 1A Div. II would come away with a 48-34 Oakwood victory.
For Oakwood, this game was a shocker for its offense led by Damiyne Durham. For a team that usually scores well into the 70’s in the points range, Durham’s struggles early forced other players to step up.
Durham’s first field goal happened with 7:10 left in the second quarter after a first quarter where the Panthers lead 12-10 after it.
The scoring stayed slow as both teams struggled shooting from all across the floor. The second quarter’s 10-8 margin in favor of Douglass had the game tied at 20 going into halftime.
Oakwood coach Ronnie Dunn said he was pleased with the way his team performed on the defensive side of the ball, but said he was shocked by the lack of offense that the team was able to put forth, especially from Durham early on.
“Defensively, I thought that was our best game of the year ... for defense,” Dunn said. “Offensively, we struggled. Durham struggled from the field. Luckily, there were some guys who stepped up from the field. Jacquez Anderson stepped up and had a great game. He kept us in the game offensively.”
Anderson’s performance was definitely noticed, at most part in the first half when Durham struggled.
Anderson scored the first seven points of the game for Oakwood and finished with 19 points and eight rebounds for the game.
Durham, who started off in a bit of a slump, picked it up late in the second quarter and continued to have his presence felt late into the game. He finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds a few assists and three blocks.
The game changer for the Panthers happened at halftime. Oakwood came out of the locker room and was ready to play.
The Panthers were able to hold the Indians to seven points in the third and seven points in the fourth to complete a solid defensive effort.
Dunn said to get a win like this against a highly-ranked opponent was something the Panthers needed to boost their confidence.
“I think the first half, a lot of it was nerves,” Dunn said. “Douglass and Oakwood go way back, especially from this past year. Before then, they beat us just about every year, but last year, we were able to get them in Douglass and then they beat us here before beating us in the Regional Championship Game.
“Our guys were a little bit nervous and they were really wanting this one,” he added. “In the first half, I think they were wanting it too much and were trying to do too much instead of letting the game come to them. In the second half, we were able to let the game come to us, and we came away with the win.”
For the Panthers, this win keeps them atop in their district and sets them up for another district match on Tuesday against Kennard at home.