OAKLEAF – Oakleaf High basketball coach Jason Price repeatedly told his team they were doing everything right, but just not getting the bounce on the rim as the Creekside High Knights beat …
OAKLEAF – Oakleaf High basketball coach Jason Price repeatedly told his team they were doing everything right, but just not getting the bounce on the rim as the Creekside High Knights beat Oakleaf’s Knights 62-54 in a key district 4-8A game played Tuesday at Oakleaf High School. Creekside, the defending district champion that knocked Oakleaf out of the district tournament last year in the semifinal, stayed unbeaten at 3-0. Oakleaf beat Creekside in 2016 in the district 4-7A tournament final.
The loss, combined with a strong start by rival Fleming Island High, at 3-1 overall, 1-0 in district play, puts Oakleaf, 1-2, in the backseat of the district race. Buchholz, the district runnerup, is 1-2, 0-1 with their district loss to Fleming Island. Bartram Trail is 1-2, but 0-0 in district play as the rugged district slate started last week and continues this week.
Oakleaf rebounded with a thrilling 51-50 district win over Fleming Island on Friday.
In the first quarter, Creekside, who matched Oakleaf’s size; Chantz Williams and Jalen Rivers; both 6’-4”, under the basket with quick-strike shooting to burst to a 24-16 lead. Oakleaf got a surge in points off three pointers from senior guard Willie Edwards, but Oakleaf was getting beat on the Creekside transition game.
As the second quarter opened, Oakleaf closed the gap to 24-21 with Deonte Sherwood hitting a three pointer on his first shot then powering off the baseline for a five point swing in less than 30 seconds.
Kenny Thomas got a steal and fed Sherwood for another jumper with Thomas battling for two free throws as Oakleaf closed to 27-25. The rim became unfriendly for Oakleaf for nearly two minutes as Creekside surged to a 33-27 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, both teams exchanged body blows that kept the deficit stuck near seven points with Williams getting his first bucket of the night. Creekside got a steal to layup play and opened a 10-point lead at 43-31.
With two minutes left in the third quarter, Oakleaf started to exact some physicality under the boards with Dante Smalls, a 6’-5” forward, energizing the battle in the paint with four rebounds and a soft jumper off an Edwards’ pass putting Oakleaf within eight points at 45-37 with Sherwood getting two free throws to cut that gap to 46-39 as the third period ended.
In the fourth, with Creekside initiating a full court press, Oakleaf saw that small gap inch away to 50-38 before Price called a time out.
With just 5:40 left in the game, Oakleaf committed their 10th team foul to produce a bonus situation for Creekside at the foul line.
Despite the disadvantage, Oakleaf closed to 54-47 with a Williams’ drive leading to a Sherwood jumper and Edwards hitting two free throws off an offensive rebound.
Price continued to implore his team to keep the fight up despite the seemingly tight basket, but a steal from Quintez Johnson got a missed layup from Thomas before Johnson fouled out. At 60-51 with six seconds, Edwards hit a three-pointer to end the game at 60-54.