Oak Hall Boy’s Hoops Survives Battle Against University Christian To Advance To District Championship

The Oak Hall Eagles moved to the 2A-District 4 championship game on Friday after edging the University Christian Fighting Christians 49-47.  The Christians kept it close for nearly the entire game, but the Eagles came out on top.

The Eagles saw multiple players step up to help the team secure the victory. Sophomore Andrew Powell led the team with 13 points, nine of which came in the second half. Senior Michael Moreschi and junior Dylan Provencher also chipped in with 12 points each. Sophomore Jackson Beach knocked down two 3-pointers in the first half to keep the team in the game as well. Beach went on to finish with eight points.

A Game of Adjustments

From the opening tipoff, the Christians took their time on the offensive end. Their game plan was clear: slow down the game in an attempt to break Oak Hall’s zone defense. The Christians had some breakthrough moments in attacking the hoop, but the Eagles mostly kept up on defense. Eagles coach Monte Towe credits the team for sticking with the zone but making adjustments to stop University’s attacks at the rim.

“It worked well for us to stay with that defense, but [to] extend it a little bit,” Towe said. “I thought the front line of our defense, our guys out front really did a good job of moving around.”

While they adjusted their zone to counter the Christians’ offensive game plan, the Eagles also had to make some changes offensively. The team took a while to heat up, only scoring 30 points through the first three quarters of play. One shift the team made that allowed them to take control in the fourth quarter was a more aggressive offense of their own.

Most of the team’s points in the final eight minutes came from the paint, including a dominant finishing stretch from Provencher. Eight of his twelve points in the game came in the final period of play. As the team’s starting center, Provencher capitalized on the interior-scoring opportunities to ice the win for his team.

“As the game went on, we realized that they had a very good defense, and we weren’t really getting much outside,” Provencher said. “[We] had to rely on cutting and just getting the ball to the basket.”

Battle Scars for the Eagles

Senior Michael Moreschi briefly exits the game to bandage up his bleeding right knee.

This game threw plenty of unexpected obstacles at Oak Hall in their pursuit for a district championship berth. In the middle of the second quarter, the officials stopped the game to point out that Moreschi’s right leg was bleeding. Confused as to how the injury occurred, Moreschi hustled over to the sideline and quickly put a towel on his knee.

Once he cleaned up the blood, the medical staff wrapped the cut in a bandage. He reentered the game less than two minutes after the incident occurred. His play was not noticeably affected as the game went on.

Sophomore Andrew Powell jogs off the court after taking a hard hit to the nose.

Just one quarter later, another Eagle took a hard blow. While going after a loose ball, Powell’s nose made direct contact with a University defender. After a brief stoppage in play, Powell exited the court and spoke with the coaches and the medical staff.

As the quarter came to a close, Powell insisted that he felt fine and was ready to go back in. He was soon cleared by the medical staff, and he reentered the game early in the fourth quarter. He did not let the injury scare deter him from maintaining his aggressive play.

“Coach kept telling us to play strong, to keep packing in… and don’t give them easy baskets,” Powell said. 

Next Man Up

At the end of the third quarter, the Eagles trailed 34-30. The team knew they needed a spark. Early on, it appeared that Powell would be their guy. He racked up seven points in the final quarter, most of which came in the first few minutes of the period. However, the Eagles were dealt a gut punch near the end of the game. With 1:39 remaining and the score tied at 45, Powell picked up his final foul.

With their leading scorer out of the game, the Eagles needed an unsung hero to step up. Dylan Provencher was that hero. Provencher picked up right where Powell left off on the offensive end, providing a reliable inside scoring outlet for the team. Provencher also provided a clutch performance on the defensive end as well, essentially serving as a bouncer that would not let the Christians get the attacks they wanted.

On one of the final plays of the game, University junior Desirrio Riles was fouled while attempting a layup with less than five seconds remaining. The Christians trailed 49-47 and hoped to recover the rebound from Riles’ second attempt, which he intentionally missed. However, Provencher snagged the rebound and was immediately fouled, essentially serving as the cherry on top of Oak Hall’s win.

One Game Away…

With their win over the Christians, the Eagles earned a berth in the 2A District 4 championship game. Their opponents, the top-seeded St. Joseph Academy Flashes, will have home-court advantage in their matchup this Friday. However, the Eagles have battled through plenty of adversities this year, and they do not believe they are done. Provencher, and the team as a whole, is motivated to keep playing for themselves, their school, and, above all else, their teammates.

“If we didn’t win this game, this would have been the last 32 minutes of [high school] basketball [the seniors] would ever play,” Provencher said. “I left it all out there, and I did it for them.”

Towe echoed Provencher’s sentiment after the game. He noted that the team’s drive to continue their run will hopefully propel them to more postseason success.

I’ve told our team, ‘The team that wants to keep playing, a lot of times, is the team that keeps playing,” Towe said. “Our guys want to keep playing, I know that, and it showed out there tonight.”

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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