After losing a heartbreaker by three points to district rival East Hamilton on Tuesday night, the Ooltewah boys’ basketball team desperately needed a good performance to get momentum rolling in the right direction again.
They got that performance Friday night behind a suffocating defense, defeating Class AAA District 5 foe Soddy Daisy 53-41. The host Owls held the Trojans to just 12 first-half points, and had balanced scoring with five players who scored six or more points, led by AJ Hyndman with 12.
“A district win is a good win.
Any win is a good win,” said Owls coach Jay Williams. “(Soddy Daisy’s) guards have a lot of size, they’re coached well, and they play hard. We thought if we could get into their guards defensively, we could wear them down a little bit as the game went on.”
The Owls’ full-court man-to-man defense gave Soddy Daisy problems from the start, speeding up the Trojans’ offense and forcing an up-tempo game that led to a bevy of first-half turnovers. Down 6-4 midway through the first quarter, Ooltewah (8-9, 1-3) took the lead for good with a 9-0 run and ended the period up 15-8.
While Ooltewah attempted to speed the game up with its defense, the Trojans (5-9, 0-4) tried to slow it down. Playing the Owls in a zone, Soddy forced Ooltewah to shoot the ball more from the outside, which is not one of the Owls’ strengths.
With both teams in a defensive chess match, the scoring nearly grinded to a halt in the second quarter. The first points by either team came at the 4:22 second mark on a baseline jumper by Ooltewah’s Chris Styles, and the teams combined for just 11 points in the period as the Owls led 22-12 at intermission.
The offense picked up a bit in the third quarter. Ooltewah senior Chayel Williams made a lay-up after a brilliant spin-move down the left side of the lane to put his team up 26-14, and Tarel McClurkin – who was the other Owl in double-figures with 11 points – hit Ooltewah’s only 3-pointer of the game a few minutes later.
“At halftime we talked about running some high-low sets against their zone, but really we got all our points from the fast break because of our defense,” said Chayel Williams. “The first half we hit them with a strong man press and made them play fast, which is how we like to make teams play. The second half, we went into the zone press, and it forced them into some turnovers that gave us some easy lay-ups, and that’s how we were able to expand our lead.”
“Tonight’s win was extremely big, because we felt like we should’ve won on Tuesday, but we gave up a six-point lead late. It was good to come out and get a big ‘W’ after that.”
Soddy’s Tyan Massengale answered McClurkin’s trey on the Trojans’ next possession, and Soddy cut the lead down to eight heading into the final stanza. Massengale almost single-handedly kept the Trojans in the game in the third quarter, where he scored ten of his game-high 16 points.
After trading a few buckets to open the fourth quarter, Ooltewah turned up the defensive pressure. The Owls’ full-court zone press forced a number of turnovers by the Trojans, and they got a spark off the bench from Dominic Mackaluso, who scored all six of his points in the period. All of that led to a 9-2 run by that Owls that a put a little distance between themselves and the visitors.
Ooltewah struggled from the free-throw line down the stretch, going just 7-of-14 in the fourth quarter and shooting just 42 percent from the charity stripe for the game. The Trojans were unable to take advantage, however, and never got the deficit back into single digits as Ooltewah pulled away for the victory.
“We have to keep getting better offensively. We’re working at it and working at it, and we’ll continue to,” Coach Williams said. “A lot of people talk about having a go-to guy, but what if you only have one and he gets hurt or gets in foul trouble? We talk about being family a lot, and family shares; we want to share the basketball offensively. When you have good balance as a team offensively, nobody cares if it’s their night because you might have three points one night and 23 the next.”
Both teams have a couple of important district games ahead next week. Ooltewah travels to Bradley Central on Tuesday and hosts McMinn County on Friday, while also hosting Class AA Hixson on Thursday. Soddy Daisy’s schedule is a near mirror image, as they host McMinn County on Tuesday and travel to Bradley Central on Friday with a match-up against Class AA Red Bank at home sandwiched in between on Thursday.
Soddy Daisy Girls 47, Ooltewah 29: Bailey Branam led all scorers with 18 points, and Jada Trimiar scored 11 as the Trojans won easily over the Lady Owls.
The Lady Trojans jumped out to an early eight-point lead after a quarter, holding the Lady Owls to just three points in the period. They extended that lead to 27-13 heading into halftime as Branam and Trimiar combined to score 12 of their team’s 16 points in the period.
Branam effectively sealed the victory for the Lady Trojans in the third quarter, where she scored eight points, including making a couple of shots from behind the arc.
Anya Sutton led the Lady Owls with eight points.
GIRLS GAME SUMMARY
SODDY DAISY 11 16 14 6 -- 47
OOLTEWAH 3 10 9 7 -- 29
SODDY DAISY (47) – Bailey Branam 18, Jada Trimiar 11, Brown 6, Hamby 4, Yother 4, Morgan 4, Crawley, Perez, May, Lemacks, Harding, Sneed, Collins, Varner.
OOLTEWAH (29) – Sutton 8, Tharp 6, Thompson 5, Bernier 4, Casteel 2, Turman 2, O’Donnell, Poland, I-Garcia, Collier, Soto, Dillard.
3-POINT GOALS: Soddy Daisy 4 (Branam 3, Hamby); Ooltewah 1 (Tharp).
BOYS GAME SUMMARY
SODDY DAISY 8 4 12 17 -- 41
OOLTEWAH 15 7 10 21 -- 53
SODDY DAISY (41) – Tyan Massengale 16, Coffelt 9, Ricketts 7, Ackerman 5, Ryans 4, Smith, Addison, Reed, Sims, Swearingen.
OOLTEWAH (53) – AJ Hyndman 12, Tarel McClurkin 11, Petty 8, Williams 7, Mackaluso 6, Johnson 5, Haynes 2, Styles 2, McHone, Sims.
3-POINT GOALS: Soddy Daisy 3 (Massengale, Coffelt, Ackerman); Ooltewah 1 (McClurkin).
(Contact Kevin Llewallyn at firstname.lastname@example.org)