The Blackman-Oakland girls' basketball rivalry has become something special.
The latest renewal on Friday was another hard-fought contest that played to a familiar theme -- a Lady Blaze win.
The 40-31 final score gives a strong indication of the tough, hard-nosed defensive struggle it was throughout the game. It certainly was not easy, but Blackman ran its record to 14-0.
Trailing 13-11 at the half, defending state champion Blackman turned up the heat in the second half. With 6:06 remaining in the third quarter, the spirited Dan’Angela Wilson knifed through the Oakland defense and her traditional three-point play gave the Lady Blaze a lead they would never relinquish.
“Dan’Angela is a real fireball for us and she always plays hard,” Blackman coach Jennifer Grandstaff said. “That was a big play for us. She just loves to compete and loves the game.”
Wilson was the leading scorer for Blackman as she tossed in 12 points. One of her bigger contributions, however, was the spearheading of the Lady Blaze defense.
“Defense has been the backbone of our team this season,” said Grandstaff, who registered career win No. 601 as a high school coach. “We knew Oakland would be prepared coming in. We understand we are going to get everyone’s best shot. We just have to ready to handle it.”
The Lady Patriots (14-3) did not get the outcome they wanted, but head coach Shelby Campbell definitely drew some positives from the contest.
“Every game is a learning experience and I am very proud of how we competed," Campbell said. “They threw some new looks at us and we had trouble scoring the basketball. I give Blackman a lot of credit, but you can always grow when you play in tough games like this.”
Blackman (40): Wilson 12, Monson 9, Flowers 10, Smith 4, Dunbar 3, Mostin 1, Hamby 1
Oakland (31): Wilson 7, Nelson 7, Sutton 5, Chesterfield 4, Cole 4, Phillips 4
Blackman 54, Oakland 33
What figured to be another hard-fought game between district rivals quickly became a clinic on Blaze basketball.
As the measuring stick for Tennessee high school boys’ basketball teams in recent times, Blackman has used simple fundamentals. Friday's dismantling of Oakland on the road was more of the same.
Solid defense and great shot selection allowed Blackman (9-5) to burn their way to a 19-7 lead after one quarter. Continuing to get good shots and knock them down, they maintained a 31-18 halftime advantage.
The third quarter is when coach Barry Wortman Blaze really stoked the fire as they grew the lead to 24 at the end of three quarters. From there, it was all but a formality as Blackman cruised home 54-33.
“We got practice into the game in a big way,” Wortman said. “We caught the ball with two hands, moved the ball and got good shots. Our kids played with a lot of passion and we really came to play.”
Nasir Scaife led all scorers with 19 as he time and again made big baskets for the Blaze. Rashad Bolden also finished in double figures as he netted 10 for Blackman.
Oakland (10-8) was led in scoring by Brody Burchard, who put up nine points. Patriot coach Dyron Birdwell will go back to the drawing board after this one.
“I am really disappointed in our effort,” Birdwell said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Blackman because they were ready and played a great game. We were not ready to play, and I will take responsibility for that.”
Blackman (54): Scaife 19, Stricklin 7, Lee 7, Carruthers 5, Johnson 2, Carson 14
Oakland (33): Patterson 4, Kenny Cole 2, Allen 4, Burchard 9, Braylen Vanderbilt 1, Williams 7, Carter 5.