Christmas blues
Princeton (45) Vs. Oak Hill (39)
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PRINCETON — If missed free throws were candy and nuts at Coach Ralph Ball Court on Tuesday night, Oak Hill might’ve had a merrier Christmas.
The Red Devils shot 13-for-28 at the free throw line, including nine missed freebies during a not-unconvincing fourth quarter effort to overtake Princeton and the Tigers held on for a 45-39 victory.
With both teams on the verge of a holiday hiatus, Princeton (5-1) found itself not looking quite as sharp as it has been and Oak Hill (1-4) wasn’t quite as crisp as it could possibly become on the other side of the New Year.
“Foul shots really killed us ... to miss that many free throws, you’re not going to beat many teams like that,” said Red Devils head coach Benitez Jackson. “But I thought we had a good chance to win the game. We didn’t play very well and lost by six and Princeton is good team. We’ll see where we go from here.”
The Tigers got 16 points from Logan Watkins, including a 3-pointer with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter that put Oak Hill in the rear view for good — albeit never as comfortably so as Princeton would’ve liked.
The Tigers won’t return to live play until going to Logan on Jan. 8. Watkins, for one, intends to make good use of his practice time over the holiday season.
“To tell you the truth, I’d rather be in the gym. This is my last year and I’d kind of like to go out with a bang,” Watkins said.
“At the beginning of the season we had certain things we were working on ... defense, being aggressive, getting on the floor after balls, making smart passes. Tonight we got the win but we fell back a little bit. We didn’t do what we’re supposed to do,” he said.
It did work in spurts however. Oak Hill got up 14-11 in the second quarter and had a chance to achieve some separation when a Cole Cochran bucket cascaded into a comeback thanks to a back-to-back pair of steals from Tigers guard Aaron McCabe.
McCabe finished the first transition opportunity, Watkins laid up the next and one three-second turnover by Oak Hill later, McCabe got a three-quarter court assist on a Watkins layup for the 19-14 lead.
“Princeton played well and made us do a lot of things that our kids weren’t comfortable with.They played good defense and were really physical. We just didn’t take care of the ball,” said Jackson, whose team got 13 points from Paul Walton and 12 points from Andrew Work.
Princeton head coach Ernie Gilliard gave the Red Devils due credit for the closeness of Tuesday’s game, regardless of his squad’s execution issues. The Tigers skipper is looking forward to getting his team back in the gym to fix what he diagnoses from the film.
“(Oak Hill) is a good basketball team and they are progressively getting better. They’ve got tremendous athletic ability and they’re well-coached. They’re victims of some youthful mistakes ... and missed free throws,” Gilliard said.
“For some odd reason we seem to have lost that edge, so we need to go back to the basics and have some good hard-nosed practices again. We need these kids to get that chip back on their shoulder,” he said.
Oak Hill is off until opening the Ripley Christmas tournament with Ripley on Dec. 29.

at Ralph Ball Court
OAK HILL (1-4)
Paul Walton 4 2-2 13, Honaker 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Light 2 0-0 5, Bass 1 1-2 3, Scruggs 2 2-11 6, Wyan 0 0-0 0, Andrew Work 2 8 -13 12, Gray 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 13-28 39.
Hartwell 2 0-0 4, Co. Fix 1 1-2 4, Whittington 2 0-0 6, McCabe 0 4-4 4, Cochran 2 1-2 5, Murphy 1 3-5 5, Logan Watkins 4 6-9 16, Reed 12 16-26 45.
Oak Hill......................12 11 6 10 — 39
Princeton...................11 14 7 13 — 45
3-point goals— Oak Hill 4 (Walton 3, Light), Princeton 5 (Fix, Whittington 2, Watkins 2).
Game Scoreboard
Princeton 11 14 7 13 0 45
Oak Hill 12 11 6 10 0 39
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