When the Ooltewah Owls are clicking on all cylinders they can score lightning fast and points come in bunches.
After watching visiting Soddy-Daisy build a 24-19 lead in the second quarter, Ooltewah ran off 22 of the game’s next 24 points to turn the game around and defeated the Trojans, 68-52, Friday night in District 5-AAA high school basketball action at Edward M. Foster Gymnasium.
Earlier, Ooltewah’s Lady Owls posted a 54-47 win over the Lady Trojans behind the balanced scoring of Tamiyah Baker, India Corley and Hannah Henderson, who combined for 34 points.
While a dreary mist fell outside, the Owls (10-5, 4-1) rained seven field goals, including four 3-pointers, on the Trojans (7-8, 0-5) in a span five minutes to grab a 41-26 lead with 2:01 left in the first half.
“If we stick our defense the fast points will come,” said senior Jaymcal Johnson, who led all scorers with 22 points – eight in the decisive 22-2 run and 13 in the first half. “It feels great when we do that.”
The Trojans matched the Owls bucket for bucket over the first 6 minutes and 30 seconds. In the final 27.8 seconds of the opening period, Andy Wright and Tucker Landreth, who paced the Trojans with 15 points, each hit 3s sandwiched around Johnson’s layup and took a 22-19 lead into the second period.
“I was disappointed in that,” Owls coach Andre “Tank” Montgomery said. “I told the guys we shouldn’t be giving up 22 points in a quarter. Then, what happened was we tightened up on defense and the shots started falling.”
James York scored on a layup, with a nice pass from Landreth, to give Soddy-Daisy the five-point lead at 24-19, 16 seconds into the second period.
Johnson and Dajvonte Ross each hit 3s from the same left corner. After York made a baseline jumper, Johnson ripped another 3 from the left wing.
Ross made two free throws, Johnson put up a fast-break layup and Ron King followed with two just like it.
King flicked in a 3 from the left side and Ross capped the spree with a layup at the 2:01 mark.
Suddenly the Owls had a 41-26 advantage.
Soddy-Daisy coach Reid Daniels wanted to do one thing in the game-changing situation.
“Stop them,” he said.
That’s not always easy.
“If they get their tempo going and you can’t stop them, that plays into their hands a little bit,” Daniels said. “We controlled the tempo in the first quarter, but lost our grasp on it after that.”
And the Owls’ vaunted man-to-man pressure defense has seized control of the passing lanes, picking off passes and whipping them down the floor for – at times – easy transition baskets.
Even Landreth, the Trojans’ slick ball-handling point guard had some problems with the pressure on several occasions.
“Ooltewah is very good with on-the-ball defense,” Daniels said. “We have a good point guard who was all-district last year. They were pressuring him, making it tough on him, and he does a good job against the pressure. That makes it hard to get your offense started.
“It also shakes loose some turnovers, gives them easy baskets and gets their offense started. I think that’s what Ooltewah does well.”
A buzzer-beating jumper from out top by C.J. Fritz gave the Owls a 43-30 halftime lead.
Ooltewah pushed the lead to 59-38 and it led 61-41 after King’s jumper from the left wing with 16.7 seconds left in the third period.
Down 66-45 the Trojans went on a mini spurt with seven straight points to trim the deficit to 66-52.
Thomas Williams’ field goal with 9.4 seconds gave Ooltewah its final 68-52 margin of victory.
King finished with 12 points and Ross had 10 for the Owls. But the spotlight belonged to Johnson.
“Jaymcal has gotten more aggressive on offense and on defense he’s a monster,” Montgomery said. “I don’t know if it was Ben (Snider) is out (with a broken middle finger on his shooting hand), but Jaymcal decided he was going to work hard all night.
“He kept us in the game early with some shots and I thought that was awesome. He’s a senior, but he’s a young senior basketball-wise. He’s growing up fast and the other guys seem to be maturing, too.”
Soddy-Daisy’s Christian Amos joined Landreth in double figures with 10 points.
Ooltewah girls 54, Soddy-Daisy 47: India Corley led Ooltewah with 13 points, including eight in the first quarter and the Lady Owls outscored the Lady Trojans, 22-8, in the second period to build a 36-20 lead.
Heather Taylor finished with nine points, including half of Ooltewah’s six 3s.
Morgan Hopkins and Kelsea King each scored 11 points and Hannah Smith added 10 for the Lady Trojans (4-12, 1-4).
“I got great effort from my girls,” Soddy-Daisy coach Drew Lyness said. “I was pretty excited when we cut it to four points in the second half, but we couldn’t close the deal. That bad second quarter did us in.”
Soddy-Daisy 22 8 11 11 – 52
Ooltewah 19 14 18 7 – 68
Soddy-Daisy (52) – Christian Amos 10, Tucker Landreth 15, Carter 2, Wright 5, Jeffries 6, York 8, Floyd 2, Eller 2, Shaughnessy, Whymer 2.
Ooltewah (68) – Jaymcal Johnson 22, Boyd 3, Ron King 12, Fritz 8, Dajvonte Ross 10, Montgomery 9, Williams 2, Wooten, Hughes, Freeman 2, Strickland, Cothran.
3-Point Goals: Soddy-Daisy 2 (Landreth, Wright); Ooltewah 8 (Johnson 4, King 2, Ross 2).
Soddy-Daisy 14 8 13 12 – 47
Ooltewah 14 22 10 8 – 54
Soddy-Daisy (47) – Harris 7, Hale 1, Morgan Hopkins 11, Hannah Smith 10, Kelsea King 11, Ward, Phillips 4, Hancock, Wade 1.
Ooltewah (54) – Cain 2, Taylor 9, Cooper 5, A. Jones, H. Hall, G. Hall, Tamiyah Baker 12, Reed 2, India Corley 13, Hannah Henderson 11.
3-Point Goals: Soddy-Daisy 1 (Phillips); Ooltewah 6 (Taylor 3, Cooper, Baker, Corley).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)