Lone Oak 42,
By Cliff Gibson
LONE OAK — Through the first half of district play, Lone Oak and Edgewood had been neck and neck and stayed that way through the duration of Friday’s huge 14-2A matchup.
A late surge by the Buffaloes (16-3, 7-0) gave them all the separation they needed to capture a 42-39 win over the 20th-ranked Bulldogs (15-4, 5-2) and some extra space atop the district standings.
Lone Oak coach Matt McLaughlin praised the hustle of his team, especially when things got a bit tense at the end.
“I think our effort was outstanding the whole night. We had a little lull in the third quarter when they took the lead but we fought and fought and made more hustle plays down the stretch,” he said. “We got several deflections that disrupted their offense and grabbed some clutch rebounds at the end.”
Lone Oak senior Sawyer Zachary pumped in a team-high 15 points, with 13 coming in the second half. Trailing by three points with just a few minutes to play, Zachary converted a layup and nailed a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to erase Edgewood’s last lead of the night. Ethan Fite assisted on both plays.
Fite tossed in eight points to go with six rebounds and two steals, Clint Mahand dropped in 11 points and pulled down four rebounds and Trevor Hemphill played big minutes in the paint, ripping down seven boards and blocking three Edgewood shots.
Edgewood’s Tyler Germany led all scorers with 17 points.
Lone Oak struggled to find the bottom of the net in the opening period, missing several close range shots while Edgewood opened up a 12-4 lead on the strength of two deep balls from Germany.
But Mahand connected from long range and Zachary converted a layup in transition to close the gap to 12-9 after one period.
The Buffaloes not only found their shot in the second period, but clamped down defensively as well, holding Edgewood to just two points in the frame while Lone Oak turned the tables for a 20-14 advantage at the break.
Zachary’s speed paid huge dividends for the Buffaloes in the third, as the senior used his quick first step to blow by defenders for easy drives to the cup on four occasions. However, the Bulldogs kept it close with some timely buckets and trailed by just a point (30-29) entering the final period.
Edgewood held a 35-32 lead with just 3:37 to play when Zachary and Fite teamed up for the two crucial shots to put Lone Oak back in front. Fite later scored on a putback for a 39-37 lead and Hemphill converted his only field goal at the most opportune time, giving the Buffaloes a four-point lead with less than a minute to play.
Edgewood was only able to muster a pair of free throws down the stretch.
The Buffaloes hold a two-game lead over Edgewood heading into the second half of district play, which begins Tuesday when Lone Oak travels to Alba-Golden for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
“I just erased the records on the board in the locker room and told the guys everybody is 0-0 now,” McLaughlin said. “What we’ve done so far is good but our goal is not to be good. Our goal is to get better every day.”
District 14-2A boys
Edgewood 12 2 15 10 —39
Lone Oak 9 11 10 12 —42
E: Tyler Germany 17, Carlos Bolton 10, Justin Bundy 7, Jackson Tyner 3, Christian Davison 2.
LO: Sawyer Zachary 15, Clint Mahand 11, Ethan Fite 8, Trevor Hemphill 4, Jack Nichol 2, Coleton Lasseter 2.
Records: LO 16-3, 7-0; E 15-4, 5-2.
Next game: Lone Oak at Alba-Golden, 8 p.m. Tuesday.