Oakland's boys' season came crashing to an end with a 59-40 loss to the Southwind Jaguars Wednesday afternoon at Murphy Center in the state quarterfinals.
It was Oakland's first appearance in the state tourney in 10 years.
The 19 point-deficit was misleading as to the content of the game, which had 18 ties/lead changes in the first three periods, with Oakland leading at the half and down by only one going into the fourth before being outscored 21-3 in the final stanza.
"We just couldn't score (in the fourth)," said Oakland coach Troy Bond. "Tre Jones has been a big part of our scoring and he had an off day, got in foul trouble early and kind of dictated the pace. We left a lot of opportunity out there on the scoreboard not making shots."
"We wanted to speed them up," added Southwind coach Paul Edwards. "We didn't play well against their zone in the first half. They do a great job cutting off the lanes and we just had to find some areas to be successful in."
Southwind jumped to an early lead but Oakland quickly battled back behind a big first period from Mike Hayworth, and after some back-and-forth the Patriots claimed a 19-16 lead going into the second.
In the second period, literally every basket produced a tie or lead change. Oakland senior Cooper Baughn led the charge for the Pats as they were able to carry a 27-26 lead into the lockers for halftime.
"Mike (Hayworth) was very aggressive," said Bond. "He did a great job attacking. He is undersized but has a huge heart and plays that way. Cooper (Baughn) was ready to catch and shoot, which is his best asset, and he put the ball in the hole. The second half they adjusted to both and tightened up on them.
Part of the Mustangs' success in the game was playing Oakland standout and season district MVP Keshawn Davidson very tightly, sometimes double teaming and preventing him from any big shots.
"They were tough on me," said Davidson. "I just tried to be aggressive and create for my teammates."
"We wanted to keep him (Davidson) tired. We wanted to make him work for everything," said Edwards. "In Memphis we see a lot of great players, and we wanted to bring that mindset here to him. We tried to make everything he did hard, and he still got away a bit but we did a good job on him."
The third brought more of the same excitement, with the game still a point apart going to the fourth, this time with the Mustangs in the lead 38-37. It was here where the game turned sour for Oakland, as they allowed Southwind an 11-0 run to begin the fourth, a lead the Mustangs would not look back from. They were led by an explosive half from standout Carlos Marshall, who had 14 of his game high 24 in the second half.
"He (Marshall) is a great player," said Oakland's Hayworth. "I feel like we executed well against him in some areas of the court, but had a few slip-ups and slippers count. We played good defense on him but he is a great player."
Oakland senior leaders Hayworth and Baughn were able to take more than just a loss from their final game as Patriots.
"Lessons," said Hayworth. "Instead of taking this as a loss, take it as a lesson learned. Something to get better from."
"There is a whole lot more to basketball than just a game," said Baughn. "You learn about accountability, showing up on time, just the little things. You have to be coachable. I know I haven't been coachable a lot and it's come back to bite me. So when I'm in a workplace or anywhere in life, I can take these lessons, as Mike (Hayworth) said."
Hayworth led the Patriots with 10 points and six rebounds. Davidson added nine and Baughn eight.