Sopho­moric woes

Ox­ford Col­lege falls short on Sopho­more Night, 95-79

The Covington News - - Sports - By Ja­son Mur­dock

OX­FORD — For seven sopho­mores, it would be their fi­nal game wear­ing an Ox­ford Col­lege uni­form on Fri­day evening.

But as for this par­tic­u­lar con­test, there would be no Hol­ly­wood end­ing be­fore the home crowd; no rid­ing off into the sun­set to bask in their glory.

The Ma­con Rebels ended Ox­ford’s sea­son dur­ing Sopho­more Night with a re­sound­ing 95-79 vic­tory.

“Well, they are hard work­ers,” ac­knowl­edged Ox­ford head coach Rod­er­ick Stubbs of his up­per­class­men. “They’re ded­i­cated and they give their all. They have good, pos­i­tive at­ti­tudes and they put forth a good ef­fort no mat­ter what hap­pens.”

De­spite the loss, Ox­ford (419 over­all) re­ceived note­wor­thy per­for­mances from sopho­mores Chad Hixon, Michael Chang and Ja­cob Gise.

“We all get along great,” said Hixon, who had a game-high 32 points, 11 re­bounds and seven as­sists. “Ev­ery­one here in the Ox­ford com­mu­nity is friendly (and) wants you to suc­ceed whether it is on the bas­ket­ball court or in the class­room. It’s like a re­ally big fam­ily.”

Ox­ford jumped out to a com­mand­ing 11-2 lead with 16 min­utes and 53 sec­onds left in the first half af­ter a cut­ting layup by Hixon.

Ma­con would then tie the game at 24 with 11:05 to go af­ter a 12-foot jumper by Ray Head, scor­ing two of his over­all 17 points.

The Rebels fol­lowed with a driv­ing layup by Head at the 10:25 mark, giv­ing them their only first-half lead of the game.

How­ever, Chang would put the Ea­gles back on top with a wide open 3-pointer from the cor­ner. Ox­ford’s Ma­keen Sabree fol­lowed with an­other trey from the op­po­site cor­ner, ex­tend­ing the lead, 30-26, with 9:30 re­main­ing.

Ma­con man­aged to keep it close by scor­ing many points in the first half off sec­ond chance op­por­tu­ni­ties thanks to a plethora of of­fen­sive re­bounds.

But the Ea­gles would have the up­per hand af­ter the ini­tial 20 min­utes, lead­ing 47-42 en­ter­ing half­time.

Dur­ing the break, Ox­ford ad­min­is­tra­tors, coaches, fam­ily and fans hon­ored the seven sopho­mores with a wellde­served cer­e­mony. Each player re­ceived a warm ova­tion from the Ea­gle-faith­ful

on hand to wit­ness their fi­nal game of the sea­son.

Once play re­sumes, things soon be­gan to un­ravel for Ox­ford early in the sec­ond half, as the Rebels pressed which ul­ti­mately led to care­less turnovers and low-per­cent­age shots.

“We just lost our fo­cus and started turn­ing the ball over a lit­tle bit more,” said Chang, who fin­ished with 23 points and seven re­bounds. “That re­ally cost us the game tonight.”

The Rebels would re­gain the lead for good with 15:22 left af­ter two free throws by Au­thor Pie, mak­ing it 53-52.

Ma­con held Hixon, Ox­ford’s new all-time scor­ing leader, to zero field goals in the open­ing 10 min­utes of play dur­ing the sec­ond half.

“(Chad) brings his all ev­ery game,” said Stubbs of his su­per­star. “ He’s a do- it- all player. He re­bounds, scores, runs the point and pretty much does it all for us, but he’s an un­selfish player. Any­where else that he goes, if the coach wants him to be an as­sist man or strip the ball, he’ll be able to do that be­cause he’s very un­selfish.

“But night in and night out I need him to do al­most ev­ery­thing,” he added.

For the rest of the Ea­gles, the ef­fort and in­ten­sity was also there through­out the en­tire evening, as bod­ies banged be­neath the boards and play­ers lit­tered the floor for loose balls on a con­tin­ual ba­sis.

De­spite trail­ing by as many as 11 late in the sec­ond half, the Ea­gles would even­tu­ally cut the lead, 80-76, with 2: 12 re­main­ing.

Hixon led the of­fen­sive at­tack, scor­ing 14 points dur­ing the fi­nal 10 min­utes of ac­tion.

“They never gave up and still con­tin­ued to play hard tonight,” said Stubbs. “De­spite our strug­gles this year, they still con­tinue to do the best they can out there on the court.”

Ma­con would go on a 153 run to close out the game, high­lighted by a mon­ster dunk by Brant­ley, one of two throw­downs on the night.

“We just ran out of gas,” said Hixon, adding that has been the story of the year for the Ea­gles. “We get to the point (where) we just don’t have that ex­tra some­thing to get us over that hur­dle.”

Ma­con’s Ant­wan Brant­ley, who was held to just four points in the first half, ex­ploded for 26 points in the sec­ond half to help his team pre­serve the win.

Pie fin­ished the game with 21 points.

Gise added 11 points, two re­bounds and three as­sists for the Ea­gles.

“We just have a good time play­ing to­gether,” said Chang re­gard­ing what he will miss most dur­ing his ten­ure at Ox­ford. “The coaches are re­ally good (and) like to fo­cus on our ed­u­ca­tion first, which is a plus.”

STUBBS

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Su­per­man: Ox­ford’s Chad Hixon (22) soars to the bas­ket Fri­day night dur­ing a 95-79 loss to the Ma­con Rebels. Hixon led all scor­ers with 32 points, 11 re­bounds and seven as­sists.

HIXON

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