HS Boys Basketball: Grand Oaks Hands College Park it's First District Loss in High-Intensity Rematch

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 01/09/2024


SPRING, TX -- The Grand Oaks Grizzlies (15-13) handed the visiting College Park Cavaliers (23-4) their first district loss of the season in a thrilling 70-61 shootout.

Grand Oaks hoped to avoid a similar situation to their last matchup against the Cavaliers, which ended in a lopsided 66-39 victory for College Park.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Grand Oaks Head Coach Michael Day spoke on how crucial it was to learn from the first game to fuel the team in the rematch.

“Everything they do, they do well,” said Day concerning College Park. “We learned that we couldn’t give up against them and had to show resilience when faced with adversity.”

The lessons were applied well for the Grizzlies, who opened up the first quarter with a flash of effective scoring. Fast ball movement and safe jumpers gave Grand Oaks an immediate lead against their opponents.

Gritty stops on defense also aided the Grizzlies in their first-quarter efforts by limiting College Park’s scoring opportunities. Hands in passing lanes, good contests, and persistent ball pressure made the Cavaliers' offense ineffective for most of the opening quarter.

College Park attempted to swing the early momentum to their side with successive offensive possessions, but the score at the end of the first still sided with the Grizzlies, who went into the second quarter with a 19-13 lead.

“We got contributions from everyone out there,” said Day. “[College Park] has a great starting five, but I think when we get into our eight or nine, I like our team.”

A window of opportunity presented itself for the Cavaliers at the start of the second quarter, with Grand Oaks’ offense falling silent. College Park crept to within a possession of tying the game with five minutes left in the half, but a handful of wisely selected shots from the Grizzlies put the effort to rest.

Another chance came two minutes later, with the Grizzlies still failing to extend their lead significantly. But like before, the Cavaliers lacked the meaningful offensive traction to draw even.

Back-to-back transition baskets from College Park did bring the game back to within one possession, but the Grizzlies remained in front 29-27.

“We had to stay with it,” said Day during halftime. “I knew we were going to come out needing some fire, and we did.”

After talks in the locker room, both teams engaged in a war of attrition to determine who would control the flow of the third quarter.

Any College Park basket was followed by a Grand Oaks response that kept the tension at a fever pitch. Any meaningful run from either team would have blown the game wide open, but missed shots prevented either team from establishing momentum.

The Grizzlies attempted a breakaway after the midway point of the third by stretching their lead to as many as eight. But another Cavalier run in response kept the teams locked in a one-possession affair.

College Park’s run cascaded into an effort that snagged the team the lead following an all-out flurry of three-point shots from the team. Aiden Buckmon led the charge for the Cavaliers, posting three triples in 40 seconds.

“We lost where Buckmon was,” said Day. “I don’t know if it was a lack of communication, but we obviously missed something, and he was able to push them forward.”

Buckmon ended his night with 25 while fueling his team at the right time. The third-quarter buzzer sounded with the Cavaliers freshly in front 50-48.

The Grand Oaks gymnasium was buzzing to start the final eight minutes, with College Park hopeful that they might close the game out.

A Cavalier transition basket necessitated a Grand Oaks timeout with less than a minute expired from the quarter. The timeout put the pep back in the Grizzlies’ step as the team drew back within one point of tying.

The Grizzly faithful exploded with cheer following back-to-back scoring possessions from their squad, which gave a 60-54 lead to Grand Oaks with four minutes left.

Grand Oaks’ run was fueled by plays down low from Center Jadyn Murray, with Coach Day singling out his player’s ability to scrap for rebounds and 10 points contributed throughout the game.

“What can I say about Murray coming off the bench,” said Day in amazement at his player. “I thought he was big for us tonight.”

Each possession carried more weight as the clock ticked closer to zero. Grand Oaks’ stingy defense prevented College Park from creeping closer than four points of tying as free throws became the primary source of points for Grand Oaks.

“That has been one of our weaknesses this season,” said Day on free throw shooting. “We started hitting a few, and our amazing home crowd helped us feel like we had a good chance of winning.”

Efficient free-throw shooting from the players on the floor kept Colleg Park at bay. These shots, paired with late lapses on offense for the Cavaliers, sealed the victory for Grand Oaks.

A rewarding 70-61 victory snagged revenge for the Grizzlies while simultaneously catapulting the team into a tie for district first.

“Every game in this district is going to be tough,” said Day after the win. “We had to win that game if we wanted a chance to be district champions.”

Grand Oaks will now set its sights on a road matchup against the Caney Creek Panthers. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers will look to bounce back against the Cleveland Indians at home.

Comments •
Log In to Comment