The Oakland Patriots never trailed in their exciting 54-49 win over the Columbia Central Lions Saturday night at Randy King Gymnasium in the opening round of the Region 4-AAA tournament.
Oakland advanced to play Lawrence County in the regional semifinals on Tuesday night at 6 at La Vergne High School.
With 11 seconds left in the game, Columbia's Paris Brown nailed a 3-pointer to pull the Lions within 51-49. Oakland's Tre Jones was fouled on the inbound and hit one of his free throws to put the lead back to 52-49.
On the ensuing possession the Lions went to Brown again, but this time he missed the 3-point attempt, and Oakland's Wanya Moton came down with the ball and was fouled with less than a second to play. Moton iced the game by making both shots.
"My hat is off to Columbia," Oakland coach Troy Bond said. "They are a great team. We hate having to play them in the first round and I'm glad it's out of the way.
"Our kids did a great job playing together tonight. They shared the ball well, and every player who got in made a big play at some point, be it a steal, defensive stop, big rebound or big shot."
Oakland was able to avenge a loss to Columbia at the end of the regular season.
"We used the loss (to Columbia) in a teaching sense," said Bond. "Our coaching staff did a great job breaking down film and coming up with the proper adjustments we needed to make, and I think the kids did well with those adjustments."
"We also made some big free throws down the stretch. Moton, Jones, and (Keishawn) Davidson hit some big ones when they really had to."
Moton, Davidson and Jones combined for 20 of Oakland's 22 fourth-period points, including 11 free throws. Davidson was 7 of 8 alone from the line in the final stanza.
The Patriots had amassed an 11-2 lead after the first period, and carried the momentum into the second. The Lions had an eight and a half minute gap between their first and second field goals. They finally started answering the Patriot attack and actually cut one point from the Oakland lead going into halftime, trailing 21-13.
In the third period Columbia's Brandon Levier caught fire, and in a two-minute stretch, outscored the Patriots 10-4, bringing his team to within 29-27 with 1:10 left in the third.
"Levier got in a different zone there for a while," Bond said. "He has done that to a lot of people."
A 3-pointer to close the period by Davidson pushed the Patriots' lead back to five, 32-27. Oakland took that momentum into the fourth and quickly were up by 11, the biggest lead of the game, 42-31. However, another surge by Levier, this time outscoring Oakland 11-6 over a two-minute stretch brought the Lions right back into the mix and into the exciting final minutes.
Moton and Davidson led the Patriots offensively, scoring 14 and 13, respectively. Tavon Jelks added eight and Jones had seven. The Patriots shot over 50 percent from the field on the night. Levier led all scorers with 21.
REGION 4-AAA BOYS QUARTERFINALS:
Lawrence Co. 71, Stewarts Creek 50
Oakland 54, Columbia 49
Blackman 71, Shelbyville 26
La Vergne 42, Franklin Co. 25
REGION 5-A BOYS QUARTERFINALS:
MTCS 72, LEAD Academy 64