The Oakland girls basketball team is on its way to Destin later this week for a holiday tournament, and they got a taste of Florida-like weather Saturday afternoon at Columbia Central’s First Farmers Christmas Classic.
USA Today’s No. 24 team defeated a Shelbyville program that has held the top spot in that national ranking multiple times, 60-45 as temperatures in the 70s and humidity outside made for a toasty gym inside.
A win in Saturday’s conditions is not only good prep for Destin, but also down the road for a young Lady Patriots team.
“Being in a hot gym and having to play through fatigue is going to help us a lot when we get back into district play and that’s when it’s really going to matter,” Oakland senior guard Emily Eubank said.
Speaking of hot, it was two hot streaks that sparked Oakland to the win.
Trailing 5-4 after the first two minutes, the Lady Patriots reeled off a 14-2 run on 6-of-6 shooting from the field as three different players — Ansley Eubank, Shelby Gibson and Kaitlyn Oliver — scored during the run.
“We just picked it up, switched our defense and decided to guard them,” said Emily Eubank, whose back-to-back steals setup the run.
Shelbyville (7-6), which shot 3-of-10 after Oakland (11-2) took the lead, shot itself back into the game to begin the second quarter. The Eaglettes went 3-of-3 with two 3-pointers to open the quarter, trimming the lead to 24-22.
But the streaks flipped once again as the Lady Pats hit 4-of-6 shots over the next seven possessions while Shelbyville shot 1-of-6 and a two-point lead became an 11-point advantage at halftime.
“We knew Shelbyville would be physical and scrappy and hang in there; I thought they did that,” Oakland coach Jennifer Grandstaff said. “I thought our kids stepped up and made some big buckets and made some big plays when we needed to.”
Four players scored during the 10-0 run for Oakland — Gibson, Ansley Eubank, Kiara House and Oliver. It was Gibson who began the game-deciding run with one of her seven defensive rebounds at one end and turned it into a 3-pointer on the offensive side. She closed the run with another defensive board that set up Oliver’s basket.
“I knew that the score was getting tight and I knew we needed to get some good defensive stops so we could pull it out,” Gibson said of the second run, which saw all 10 points come via defensive rebounds.
Ansley Eubank had four steals and led the Lady Patriots with 17 points. Gibson finished with 14 and House with 11.
Shelbyville was led by Jameka Braden’s 13 points.
S 22 13 16 9 — 60
O 14 10 11 10 — 45
S-Jameka Braden 13, O. Calvert 3, H. Calvert 8, Gannon 3, Felts 3, Martin 6, Allison 6.
O-Ansley Eubank 17, Shelby Gibson 14, Oliver 7, Kiara House 11, E. Eubank 3, Patterson 8.