HS Boys Basketball: Final Game of the Regular Season Ends with a College Park Thrashing of Oak Ridge

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 02/14/2024


OAK RIDGE NORTH, TX -- In the final game of the regular season, the Oak Ridge War Eagles (10-24) fell 90-56 to the playoff-bound College Park Cavaliers (31-4), spoiling the senior night festivities.

After dedicating the night to the outgoing senior class, the War Eagles faced the rough task of handing the prolific Cavalier scorers. Even without Ian Buckmon, the College Park offense was more than capable of finding ways of putting the ball in the basket.

Two contributors emerged from the pack in the forms of Ian Inman and Martez James. The steady shooting of Inman capitalized on quick ball movement for wide-open looks from behind the arch, while James dominated on the glass to secure second-chance points.

Oak Ridge’s best answer was to swarm the basket with defenders following a shot, but James stood tall and secured boards through all of the bodes thrown at him. The big man ended his first quarter with a team-leading seven points, and the rest of the College Park team felt the benefits of his work.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, College Park Head Coach Clifton McNeely praised James’ contributions throughout the game.

“He’s a warrior,” said McNeely. “He does a great job battling inside defensively while also attacking on the boards.”

A ferocious fight from the War Eagles kept the team within reach throughout the opening eight minutes. Quick baskets in transition and threes out of offensive sets contributed to the Oak Ridge effort during the first.

Even with the district’s best team in their house, the War Eagles only found themselves down 22-20 before the second quarter.

The fight from Oak Ridge reached its limit when the squad briefly took the lead from College Park toward the midway point of the second, but the overwhelming power of the Cavaliers immediately took it back.

Inman and the rest of the Cavs began lighting up the War Eagle defense with ruthless efficiency. Shots came from every stretch of the floor as the quick ball movement of College Park’s offense began finding gaps between defenders.

The responding Oak Ridge attacks were handled by the resurgent defense from College Park, who switched on screens and poked away dribbles inside. The War Eagles did not help the situation due to an increase in turnovers, which allowed the Cavs to start pulling away near the end of the half.

Combinations of steady offense and solid defense contributed to College Park taking a 41-27 lead into the locker rooms. But even with their lead, Coach McNeely still believed there were places where the team could improve.

“I was disappointed in the first half with our rotations and our intensity on defense,” said McNeely. “I also didn't think we moved the ball very well.”

McNeely’s issues with the first half were ironed out by the team’s near-seamless effort during the second.

Offensive execution from Inman saw the junior guard tally a team-leading 28 points on the night. Meanwhile, the defense clamped the War Eagles into a vice grip that kept Oak Ridge from producing enough points to stay in contention.

The gap on the scoreboard continued to widen despite College Park inserting fresh faces into the game for minutes ahead of the playoffs. All but one of the Cavaliers who checked into the game recorded points for the squad, highlighting the top-to-bottom talent.

“We did a much better job in the second half,” said McNeely. “Once we started stretching the lead, the guys coming off the bench felt very comfortable and did what they could.”

Oak Ridge’s best response was to keep with the strategy of a run-and-gun offense that favored fast possessions for the chance of catching the defense off-guard. The effort only worked in minor instances, not getting the mass results needed for a comeback.

By the time the fourth quarter arrived, the Cavaliers were utilizing the full extent of their bench to give players additional minutes. The valuable experience ahead of the playoffs was aimed at helping prepare the deeper units should they be needed.

Their work was helped by the 23-point College Park lead at the end of the third quarter, which extended to 34 by the final buzzer. Late makes from the War Eagles demonstrated the never-ceasing fight from the squad, but their night ended in a 90-56 defeat at the hands of College Park.

Oak Ridge’s season ends in unfortunate defeat, while College Park will take their lessons and experience into the playoffs for a potential run through the postseason.

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