MURFREESBORO – It came down to the final play Saturday afternoon in the District 7-AAA semifinals.
Behind Isaiah Hart’s 18 points, and late turnovers by Oakland, sixth-ranked Blackman managed to fend off a Patriots comeback with a 44-41 victory when Oakland’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.
Down three with 5.1 seconds left, Oakland’s T.J. Steward missed a last-second three after an intentionally-missed free throw was rebounded and kicked out to the three-point line.
“We set something up and we had some action underneath,” Oakland coach Mike Wright said. “The guys executed great coming out of the timeout.”
“We got as good of a look that you could ask for in that situation.”
With the win, Blackman (20-4) advances to the District 7-AAA championship game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Oakland (17-9) plays in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
Blackman has reached four consecutive District 7-AAA title games, winning the past three.
The Patriots trailed 31-26 headed into the last quarter after Hart’s nine-point third quarter. Oakland rallied in the fourth, holding on to a late 40-39 lead with a little under two minutes left.
Following a critical turnover by the Patriots, Blackman’s Christian DeWitt connected on a quick layup to give the Blaze a 41-40 lead with 1:08 remaining.
It was one of 22 turnovers that Oakland had, with 15 of those being Blackman steals that led to 21 points for the Blaze.
“We turned it over too much all night,” Mike Wright said. “We have to do a better job taking care of the ball, because that was the difference in the game. You can’t turn the ball over in tournament time and expect to win ball games.”
Oakland went to its inside game for a majority of the contest. Patriots center Ricky Dunnaway scored 16 points to lead all Oakland scorers on the night. Steward and Lyons added seven for the Patriots.
“Dunnaway’s got really nice size and coach Wright and his staff did a great job to get him in scoring opportunities,” Blackman coach Barry Wortman said. “It’s the sign of a well-coached team, in that they can get the ball to their best players around the goal.”
The Blaze set the tempo early with a 12-5 run to open the game. Oakland answered to even the score at 20-20 at the halftime break.
Hart scored nine points in the third to give Blackman a slight 31-26 lead headed into the fourth.
Cedriontis Wilson added 12 points to round out all other double-digit scorers.
Blackman boys 44, Oakland 41
Blackman 14 6 11 13 — 44
Oakland 8 12 6 15 — 41
Blackman: Isaiah Hart 18, Cedriontis Wilson 12, Christian DeWitt 6, Jaellan White 4, Jordan Jeffries 2, Miller Armstrong 2.
Oakland: Ricky Dunnaway 16, T.J. Steward 7, Jaleen Lyons 7, Cooper Baughn 6, Jarrell Reeves 5.