Who's Playing?: Oxford (26-4 [2-5A Tournament Champion], #9 CL, #3 in 5A [CL]) vs. Wayne County (13-12 [5-5A Runner-Up], NR)
What?: Quarterfinal Round of the MHSAA 5A Boys Basketball Playoffs
Where?: Williams Assembly Center on the campus of Jackson State University
When?: Thursday, March 5th @ 9:00 AM
How can you keep yourself updated?: @OxChargerSports & @oxfordcitizenjd Twitter accounts
The Lowdown: It was about time I did one for Basketball didn't I? Well, it took long enough to win a playoff game since I have created the site in the summer of 2012.
Oxford boys entered the postseason ranked 9th in the state by the Clarion-Ledger and third in 5A. Wayne County defeated powerful Brookhaven (entered that game at 23-4) Saturday after having defeated Gautier Tuesday night. The War Eagles are the only non-region Champion remaining in the 5A playoffs. That also means they are the only team in the 5A boys playoffs that got to this point the hard way. They had to win the first round and then win the second round on the road against a team that had a week to prepare that game for to reach this point.
Wayne County does not have a listed roster on Maxpreps nor do they have any stats beyond their game scores. That right there is a giveaway how much they had actually cared about this season as they are 13-12 (and entered postseason play at 10-11). They average 52.8 PPG on the year among listed scores. They only went 2-4 in Region 5-5A (easily the worst among the remaining 8 teams) but did beat West Jones in the region tournament who beat them twice in the regular season to clinch a playoff spot.
This team exemplifies "Cinderella" until the clock strikes midnight in this tournament. That might be coming real soon. Oxford has been a buzzsaw to nearly every opponent Oxford has faced. The only teams Oxford has lost to is two powerful teams in the DC area, and New Hope and Saltillo, both on the road by single figures who would return the favor and beat them back (New Hope twice). Oxford stands a threat to make it to the Championship game where 3-time defending 5A State Champion Callaway and Malik Newman would meet Oxford should that happen, but that is two rounds away. Oxford must take care of business against Wayne County.
That really wasn't much of a lowdown was it? Basketball sure is hard to come up with. Oh well, let's get to the keys...
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Pull Down Some Rebounds - Something coach Drew Tyler preaches all the time. Oxford was outrebounded by Clarksdale 38-25 last round, something that just can't happen. They overcame that by shooting the ball much better than Clarksdale did.
Be Able to Shoot 50-plus Percent - Oxford averages 73.8 PPG on offense, mainly because they shoot the ball around 60 times a game. In a game with no shot clock and that's 32 minutes long, that is a shot about every 30-35 seconds. Pretty quick where the opponent is likely shooting almost as many. That's why Oxford must win the rebounding battle, because of the number of shots taken during the game.
For Wayne County to Win, They Must: Shoot Well - Oxford plays good enough defense where their offense can take control. While Oxford gives up 60+ PPG, it is because of the pace of play the Chargers like to play at.
Be Smart On Defense - Oxford runs a variety of plays on offense, and at the pace the Chargers like to run at, they need to be prepared for the unpredictable. Holding Oxford to 40 percent or less from the field - and keeping them off the foul line - and the War Eagles will have a chance to advance to the semifinals, something that was unthinkable during the course of their season the way it was going.
Directions to Williams Assembly Center @ JSU: Entering from I-55 to the north of Jackson, stay on I-55. Take Exit 96A onto Pearl St. Continue on Pearl St. following signs towards JSU, avoiding the first Roundabout by staying in the right lane until the Rose St. Roundabout (the second one you come across), continue straight (second exit) across onto Banks St. Stay straight (second exit) at the third Roundabout. On the fourth Roundabout you come across, turn left (third exit) onto S. Prentiss St. The Assembly Center is the first building on the right. Parking is further down.