Prep basketball: Oxford opens with a loss, but has something to build upon
by Mark Edwards
Nov 12, 2013 | 2137 views |  0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD – It wasn’t a win, but Oxford’s season-opening 63-52 loss to Hoover wasn’t all bad for head coach Joel Van Meter.

He managed to find some positives after the Yellow Jackets’ first game since losing 10 seniors from a year ago. In addition to the graduation losses, not all of his roster was available Tuesday – some players still are involved in Oxford’s run in the state football playoffs.

“We had a couple of guys who played well,” Van Meter said. “Kaleb Kidd did very well. Landon Alimenti did a tremendous job, especially since he was outsized most of the time. The freshman, JaKolbie McClendon, played well.”

Kidd managed nine points, while McClendon tied senior Deon Wright for game-high scoring honors with 12 each. Alimenti, a junior, played inside at 6-foot-0, often giving up height to taller Hoover (2-0).

Oxford’s night went fine, as the Yellow Jackets held off Hoover’s defensive pressure … until the second quarter.

Oxford entered the period leading 16-13, but Hoover managed a 15-0 run. After an Oxford free throw, Hoover scored nine straight until McClendon made a running left-handed hook shot.

By halftime, Oxford trailed 39-23. But the Yellow Jackets fought back and even cut the advantage to 10 at 48-38 on Kidd’s baseline jumper. Hoover took control again with a 13-point run.

Van Meter said he appreciated how his team didn’t give up in the second half.

“If we had come out the other way,” he said, “it would’ve been a big problem. But it wasn’t like we don’t have anything to build on. The difference in the game was their press in that second quarter – they scored 16 points off their pressure, mostly on layups. We would turn it over, and they would get a layup.”

Hoover, which beat Ramsay 66-61 five days earlier, got 21 points and nine rebounds from guard Austin Cherry and 14 points and 10 rebounds from forward Maurice Brown.

For the Bucs’ coach, Charles Burkett, Tuesday wasn’t just another road trip. He also enjoyed a homecoming of sorts. He played at Jacksonville State, and in fact, his former coach, Bill Jones, watched this one from the stands.

Burkett also coached at Saks High before heading to Hoover, and he said he visited with the principal who hired him at Saks, Larry Skinner.

“A lot of friends showed up,” Burkett said. “This area is my second home, and it’s always good to come home. … It’s always good for your team to put up a good performance in front of your hometown people.”

Jefferson Christian boys 78, Faith Christian: Josiah McDaniel had 11 points to pace Faith Christian, while London Huie added 10. Rayshad King’s 24 points led Jefferson Christian.

Faith Christian girls 40, Jefferson Christian 26: Sydney Nordan led the winners with 12 points and nine rebounds. Madison Stephens had 10 points.

Jasyme Grace had four points, eight rebounds and eight steals. On Tuesday, Faith Christian will host White Plains.

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