Oak Ridge gets 47 from Brett Thomas to down Oran
ORAN -- The Oran Eagles had three double-figure scorers, they knocked down nine 3-pointers and they had a total team effort offensively. But all that still wasn't enough to stop Brett Thomas and the Oak Ridge Bluejays Tuesday night.
Oak Ridge took advantage of a huge offensive effort from Thomas to pull out a 70-62 victory in a district semifinal game that was close throughout.
Thomas was beyond good. He knocked down 3-pointers, drove to the basket for layups, hit open jumpers, tipped in missed shots and finished the game with a remarkable 47 points.
"I've seen some great performances, and that ranks among the top of them," said Oran coach Joe Shoemaker. "He got going early with some open shots, and he made some tough ones there at the end."
"I've never shot that well," Thomas said. "I just felt good shooting in warmups, I came out hitting, and I just felt like I stayed consistent all game long."
The game lived up to the expectations of a close contest. Two points separated the teams after one quarter and the largest first-half lead was five points, which happened early in the second quarter.
Oran held a one-point lead in the final seconds of the first half. Oak Ridge had the ball at the far end of the court and time for one shot. The Bluejays inbounded the ball and got it into the hands of, who else but Thomas. As time expired, Thomas banked in a 3-pointer to give the Bluejays a two-point lead and a momentum boost heading into halftime.
"It took a little wind out of our sails," said Shoemaker. "Something we've talked about is don't allow quarters to end bad. We had a little bit of a bad start and [Oak Ridge] got to the free throw line which they do a good job of. I told our kids, we didn't play bad, [Oak Ridge] just played really well."
After matching Oak Ridge nearly shot for shot in the third quarter, the Eagles found themselves trailing by only four points heading into the final period of play.
Although a victory was well within reach, Oran dug themselves a deep hole to start off the fourth quarter.
The Eagles couldn't buy a basket early on in the period, and were unable to get on the board until the 4:22 mark, when Jon Morrow was able to get a layup to fall.
By that time, the Bluejays had extended their lead to 10 points.
With 2:45 left in the game, Lucas Rohde knocked down a 3-pointer to give Oak Ridge their largest lead of the game, 66-53.
The teams traded baskets on the next two possessions, keeping the lead at 13. However, Oran then picked up back-to-back baskets from Morrow and Reece Mangels to pull the Eagles within nine.
With just under a minute to play, Thomas stepped to the line shooting 1-and-1 for Oak Ridge with the opportunity to make it a four possession game, and in all likelihood, put the Eagles away for good.
Thomas missed the first attempt and Oran came down with the rebound. Oak Ridge's defense prevented Oran from getting off a quick shot, but with 0:35 on the clock, Kody Moore was able to knock down 3-pointer to pull the Eagles within six points. Unfortunately for the Eagles, that was a close as they would get.
With Oak Ridge holding the ball, the Eagles were forced to foul. Jacob Light hit 1-of-2 free throws to extend the lead to 69-62. Oran put up a quick shot on the other end but was unable to knock it down and the Bluejays came away with the rebound.
Thomas was fouled with nine seconds left and knocked down one free throw to close out the scoring for both teams.
Oran's offense was very balanced in the contest. Three Eagles reached double figures, and two other players finished with nine points. Nathan Michelsen led the team with 17 while Morrow chipped in with a double-double, netting 14 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
There were a combined 20 3-pointers made in the game. Oak Ridge had 11, including eight from Thomas, and the remaining nine were scattered among Oran players.
Oak Ridge will face the Bernie Mules at 7:30 Thursday in the district championship game.
Coach Adam Stoneking said he hopes to see a repeat performance from Thomas in the championship game.
"He had a heck of a game," Stoneking said. "You just tip your hat to him and hope he can come back and do anything similar to that on Thursday."
ORAN (62) -- Preston Scherer 10, Gabe Kielhofner 9, Kody Moore 3, Nathan Michelsen 17, Reece Mangels 9, Jon Morrow 14. FG 24 FT 5-7 F 20. (3-pointers: Scherer 2, Kielhofner 2, Moore 1, Michelsen 4. Fouled out: none.)
OAK RIDGE (70) -- Stephen Bolen 1, Caleb Elam 8, Lucas Rohde 3, Jacob Light 1, Garrett Light 8, Brett Thomas 47, Logan Mangles 2. FG 24 FT 11-21 F 15. (3-pointers: Elam 2, Rohde 1, Thomas 8. Fouled out: none.)