- Gainesville, FL. Written By: Kyrin Mayfield
It was a battle of the Eagles on Thursday night as Oak Hall hosted Bronson. Oak Hall was hoping to keep it rolling against Bronson after beating them last year. Bronson head coach Nick Margjoni wasn’t concerned about what happened in the past.
“We’re a new team this year,” Margjoni said, “so everything that we’ve done this year is going to help us win the game this year. We don’t look back on the past. We’re always looking toward the future.”
Oak Hall would like to forget the past as well, as they came in on a two-game losing streak.
“We’ve had a really good year,” said head coach Monte Towe. “We have a really young team and we’ve had a lot of good victories. I hope they remember how to win games. We’ve had a couple tough ones in the past week, but our kids have done a really good job. Hopefully, tonight we can find it within us to go out and win and get back on track.”
Whatever it was, they certainly found something within them as they rocketed out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter. Their three-point shooting was efficient, as well as their playmaking ability. Oak Hall’s Matthew McKinney assisted on three of his team’s six successful three-point shots.
Andrew Pickens added his own Steve-Nash-like flare when he drove to the basket, but fired a behind-the-back pass to McKinney, who drained the three. Lance McMahon cleaned up the glass with six rebounds in the quarter as Oak Hall led, 22-8.
The shots kept falling Oak Hall’s way as they went on a 9-2 run to begin the quarter. Accurate passing down the court from one side to the other led to a three by McKinney in the far corner. Bronson did have some bright spots when Braden Dean drove to the basket, spun faster than a wheel on the highway, and laid it in. The half ended with Oak Hall up 40-21.
Bronson’s shots began to fall as they went on a 6-0 to start the second half. The lead was now 40-25 with plenty of time for a comeback. However, multiple dimes by Oak Hall’s Pickens and Cole Gonzales put the lead up to as much as 21. They were up 53-33 with one quarter to play.
Bronson couldn’t be counted out yet, as they average over 17 points-per-game in the final quarter. Towe’s team was prepared to take on whatever Bronson would throw at them.
“We’ll try to guard them,” said Towe. “They’re a good basketball team. We’ll try to stay in front of them and keep them off the free-throw line.”
That’s exactly what they did. Oak Hall stayed disciplined. They had one foul in the first half and seven in the second half. Bronson had nine in the first half and 13 in the second.
Both teams traded shots as the deficit remained mostly unchanged. The fans of each team began jawing at each other across the bleachers as the action began to heat up both on and off the court. A game with no impact on district standings all of a sudden felt like a do-or-die competition.
Oak Hall came away with the victory thanks to 18 points from Michael Holloway II, and 17 from McKinney. Gonzales had a double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and a solid four assists. Bronson was led by seven points from Cole Langston, all of which came in the final quarter.
Both teams are back in action on Friday when Oak Hall (9-10) takes on Cedar Key, and Bronson (10-10) plays Newberry.