In the end, it was Trey Morrow — which was no surprise.
On a night filled with big plays by big-time players from two big-time teams, the Scott High sophomore scored with 39 seconds remaining to break a tie game and lift the Highlanders to a 65-63 win over Oneida in the semifinals of the South Fork Physical Therapy Christmas Classic at OHS Gymnasium.
For most of Saturday’s game, Morrow and Oneida junior Kolby Morgan went toe-to-toe, just as their respective teams went toe-to-toe. Morrow finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds — his 11th double-double in 12 games this season; Morgan finished with 24 points and nine rebounds.
Up and down the rosters, the two teams appeared evenly matched. For Morrow, there was Morgan. For Logan Goodman, there was Nathan Bowling; the Scott senior finished with 17 while the Oneida junior had 19 and six rebounds. For Cash Tucker — 11 points and seven boards — there was Dalton Yancey, with 10 points. For Luke West there was Jeric Huling, with the two finishing with 10 and 8 points, respectively. When Morrow recorded a rafter-rattling rejection that set off the Scott High student section, Morgan did the same thing on the other end two possessions later.
It was no surprise, then, that the score was close throughout. The Highlanders led by as much as seven in the first half and by as much as eight in the second half, only to see the Indians come back each time. Finally, Oneida got the lead in the fourth quarter — but it didn’t last long.
The game, played before a standing-room-only crowd at OHS Gymnasium, was far different from the two teams’ first meeting in Huntsville, at the Twin K Hall of Fame Classic on November 23. That day, the Highlanders dominated a short-handed Indians team, walking away with a 35-point win.
“It could’ve gone either way,” Oneida coach Jacob King said afterward. “If we played five times, every game would be just like this.”
In the end, the only difference between the two teams on Saturday were a few shots that fell for Scott that didn’t fall for Oneida. The Highlanders were 56 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range; the Indians were an uncharacteristic 42 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range. Perhaps the biggest difference was the free throw line in the fourth quarter: Oneida was 0-of-4; Scott was 3-of-3.
When the night was through and the over-capacity crowd filed out of OHS Gymnasium, the Highlanders’ record start to the season was still intact, as they moved to a program-best 12-0. The Indians’ seven-game winning streak was over. But the game left both coaches wanting more.
“We wanted this game to happen,” Scott High’s Jordan Jeffers said. “We wanted to make sure there was no reason for it not to happen. We wanted to do it right.”
There was friendly banter on social media between students from the two schools in the run-up to the game. During the game, both student sections — which took up about a third of the gymnasium’s seating — were on their best behavior; loud, but clean.
“I don’t see why we can’t do this year-in and year-out,” King said. “It would make both schools a ton of money. This was two great teams that played hard and played with class.”
King said the game didn’t change anything as the two teams moved forward — Scott High to the Christmas tournament’s championship game on Monday, Oneida looking to regroup before resuming district play.
“I told our guys, don’t let this tear you up so much that it ruins your season,” King said. “We’ve still got our goals. I want to get to Murfreesboro and I think we can get there. I think Jordan can win his district, which would be the first time in a long time. I’ve seen them play and I know what they’re capable of. This was just a fun game.”
SCOTT (65): Morrow 25, Goodman 17, Tucker 11, West 10, Owens 2.
ONEIDA (63): Morgan 24, Bowling 19, Yancey 10, Huling 8, West 1, Perry 1.