- Gainesville, FL. Written By Kyrin Mayfield
As district tournaments are on the horizon (less than a week away), teams hope to carry some momentum into the postseason in hopes of winning a state title. The Oak Hall Eagles and Cedar Key Sharks came into their Thursday night contest on opposite sides of the spectrum.
The Eagles won their past two games, igniting a spark that head coach Monte Towe hopes will carry his squad deep into the playoffs.
“I feel good (about his team),” Towe said. “I’d like to coach them another couple months. You’re always a little bit sad this time of year because you’re getting close to the end. These guys have played a very tough schedule. They’ve played very well. We feel good about the progress and what we’re doing.”
The Sharks, however, have lost their past five games, allowing over 50 points in four of those contests. These two teams squared off less than a week ago when Oak Hall took the trip to Cedar Key and came out victorious with a 52-42 win. Cedar Key head coach John Miller said he learned a lot from the first meeting.
“They’re tough and quick,” Miller said. “We played very well against this team. This is a good game going into our district.”
With such a close game the last time out, fans were hoping for another nail-biter, but the Eagles had other ideas. They flew out of the gates with an 11-2 run to start the game. Their offense was making shot after shot. Even Oak Hall’s Michael Holloway II knew a shot would fall before the ball was even shot when he passed it to a teammate and walked away before the shot even left the shooters hands. Obviously, the ball went in.
Cedar Key had some impressive rebounding. Michele Dibari was on board patrol, grabbing three of his team’s five offensive rebounds on the same possession. Those second-chance points weren’t enough to stop the Eagles, though, as they led 20-6 after the first quarter.
The Sharks had some bite in the second quarter when they closed the deficit to 26-17, but that’s as close as they would get. Oak Hall ended the quarter on a 15-4 run to go up 41-21 at the half. They had seven steals in the quarter, four of them by Rocky DiBernardo. Add on 12 points from Holloway II, and the Eagles were hard to stop.
Not much changed throughout the rest of the game. Oak Hall led 54-33 as the end of the third quarter. They pushed that lead up to 63-35 with a 9-2 run to begin the fourth quarter. Cedar Key fought back with a 8-0 run of their own but ended up losing 70-43.
Despite having a total of 12 offensive boards, six of which were by Dibari, they could not keep the game close. The Sharks were led by 12 points from Trace Epperson. The Eagles were led by 21 points from Holloway II. He had a well-rounded game with three rebounds, three assists and four steals. Dibernardo added five steals of his own.
Oak Hall (11-10) hosts Aucilla Christian Friday in their final regular season game. Cedar Key (5-20) now has to prepare for its district tournament, which begins February 12.