The seventh seed ran away with a first-round victory over No. 10 Faith Christian (10-5), 76-31, on Tuesday night, pairing it with the second-seeded Jacksonville Golden Eagles in the next round.
“Everybody has opinions and they have the right to their opinion,” Yellow Jackets coach Tanya Peoples said. “All I know is I told the girls that we don’t have a lot of respect. You get respect when you earn it and that’s something we have to earn with wins. We’ve been competing and we’ve been taking steps.”
The game did not start the way Oxford (6-12) would have liked, however, only leading 9-7 midway through the first quarter.
“I think (Deanna Clark) started hitting some outside shots and our transition game picked up, just picking up the flow of the game and I think we started to get into the flow.”
Oxford’s flow included numerous points in transition, allowing it to never lose its lead.
“We didn’t want to get in transition,” Faith coach Scott Shiflett said. “We wanted to slow the ball down and Oxford wouldn’t let us.”
With Oxford scoring points quickly, its two-point lead multiplied within minutes. A 10-2 run to end the first quarter led to a 10-0 run to start the second. By the half, the Yellow Jackets had a 44-15 lead.
“I know the scoreboard didn’t show this, but most of their points were in the transition,” Shiflett said. “We played really good defense when they set up in an offense. We gave up 19 points.”
Looking for more respect, Oxford will have its chance to gain a substantial amount on Thursday at 7 p.m. against the only team to receive a first-place vote at the seeding meeting other than Anniston.
“We know each other very well already,” People said. “They came to our place and beat us by 20-something, we went to them during the holidays and they beat us by nine.
“Sharon Osterbind is so versatile and physical. She plays so hard and is tough. They’re really aggressive on the boards and play good aggressive defense.”
Peoples added the first thing the Yellow Jackets need to do entering the game is believe they can win.
“(We need to) understand it’s a four-quarter game and basketball is a game of runs,” she said. “They’re going to make their runs, it’s just whether we break. You can bend, but you can’t break. We just have to keep our confidence.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.