“We started being more aggressive defensively, and that creates turnovers; which creates easy layups, which are easier shots against their zone,” Peoples said. “We also decided to go with four guards and one post, but basically their intensity stepped up.”
After the first quarter, Oxford held a slim 11-10 lead before running away with the game in the second with a terrific zone-trap — a trap that accounted for 31 Talladega turnovers, 22 of which were Yellow Jacket steals.
“We didn’t have our intensity,” said Peoples. “We run a zone-trap, and a lot of times we have intensity out of that, but we were playing as individuals instead of trapping.”
Casmine Copeland led all scorers on the evening with 16 points. She also added five assists and four rebounds. Deanna Clark chipped in with 11 points and nine rebounds. Winter Taylor contributed all-around with nine points, eight rebounds and six steals. Lexie Higgins finished the night with eight points, eight assists and seven steals. Deja Owens also scored eight points.
“With eight games left, I just want them to know that each game is crucial,” Peoples said.
Talladega 70, Oxford 58: Coach Joel Van Meter’s “young and inexperienced” team took a step forward Saturday night despite a loss to a Talladega Tiger team that pushed its record to 16-1.
“We have a lot of young, inexperienced guys, and it takes them a while to understand they do belong,” Van Meter said. “The majority of minutes tonight went to two freshman, two sophomores, and Deon Wright.”
Talladega finished the first quarter with an 18-8 lead, but then “our guys decided they belonged on the floor,” Van Meter said. Through the rest of the game, the Yellow Jackets were only outscored by two points.
Wright, who is one of only two starting seniors for Oxford, did everything he could to will his team to the upset victory. He finished with a game-high 29 points, 18 of which came in the second half. He also added eight steals, five rebounds and three assists. “Bottom line, Deon Wright took over,” Van Meter said.
Freshman Jakolbe McClendon chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds. Clay Bishop added eight points, while Querriun Mason pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
“Deon Wright is a self-made player. He’s our leader and our captain,” said Van Meter. “He is a little bit of a hidden gem around here, but trust me, he’s a good, good player.”
The Yellow Jackets were unable to contain a three-header attack from Talladega’s Josh Maddox, Desmond Green and D’Angelo Scales. Maddox was the main contributor, as he finished with 28 points and nine rebounds. Green added 18 points and eight rebounds. Scales chipped in with 10 points and dished out six assists.
“They’ve gained confidence in themselves, as well as the team, and I really believe we are ready to challenge some people,” Van Meter concluded.