ORANGE PARK - In a second thriller in less than an hour, the Oakleaf High girls basketball team showed off their fourth quarter tenacity in a thrilling 64-56 win over the Ridgeview High Lady Panthers …
ORANGE PARK - In a second thriller in less than an hour, the Oakleaf High girls basketball team showed off their fourth quarter tenacity in a thrilling 64-56 win over the Ridgeview High Lady Panthers that had the Orange Park RaiderDome fans sitting on the edge of the seats in one of the classic contests of the year.
“We knew this was going to be a big effort on our part as we enter the final phase of our season,” said Ridgeview coach Tyler Miller, who holds a 14-6 record with St. Johns Country Day School next up on Tues., Jan. 17. “I think the team showed themselves that they can play against the best teams in the state and compete.”
Ridgeview, 2-0 in district 2-5A, leads that lineup with Baker County second at 12-4, 2-1.
For Oakleaf, 19-1, 5-0 in district 3-6A, coach Fred Cole has top ranked Bishop Kenny as next game on Thurs., Jan. 19.
“Sometimes we need a game like this to test us before a run like we have with Bishop Kenny on Thursday,” said Cole. “It was what I expected later on in the game. I thought they would keep pumping the ball down low with the two Blocton sisters having an height advantage on our girls. They started doing that late in the game and that’s what made it close.”
Oakleaf opened fast from a 5-0 start to an 18-11 first quarter lead led by layups from guard Kaylah Turner.
Ridgeview started to get the ball inside the paint with Nia and Nacoya Blocton both hammering the backboard as the Panthers built a 41-35 lead with a minute left off inside baskets; one a three point play, from Nia Blocton late in the quarter.
A Fantasia James three pointer from the corner put Oakleaf within a point at 41-40 as the Knights made an end-of-stanza run to keep the score tight.
Trista Brown, the fourth Amiga, got a steal and assist to a striking Turner to give Oakleaf a lead of 42-40.
Ridgeview answered with Nacoya Blocton making a layup and foul to a 43-42 lead for the Panthers with 7:44 to go.
With the score 44-44 at 6:58, both teams turned on the jets in a fast-pace pickup of the game with James getting hammered on a three point shot attempt and canning two of three foul shots to flip the momentum to Oakleaf 46-44.
Nia Blocton tied the game, 46-46, before hitting a drive layup plus a free throw to complete a three-point play to 48-46 for Ridgeview.
James again swished a three pointer from the corner to give Oakleaf a 49-48 lead as the game became a inside-outside battle on the floor.
Turner popped two jumpers to 53-48 as Oakleaf looked to tap the gas pedal with Turner adding two more off a steal and feed to Brown to 55-48.
Another corner three by James got to 60-52 for Oakleaf as Ridgeview could not close the gap of the Knights fourth quarter run and gun.
“I think we answered the question of how tough our team can be,” said Nia Blocton. “We believed we could beat them and now we know we can be major players in the rest of the season.”