OBERLIN — The Oberlin Phoenix had lost six straight but proved Tuesday it still knows how to finish a close game.
The Phoenix found itself in a battle against the Open Door Patriots, going back-and-forth in a game with 11 lead changes. Thanks to numerous game-changing and game-winning plays, Oberlin was able to pull away in the fourth quarter for a 76-63 non-conference victory.
“It was a team win and a collective effort tonight,” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “Open Door is a good team and we knew it would be a close game, but we made some big shots and were able to get the victory.”
The third quarter alone had six lead changes, as Open Door erased a 37-33 halftime deficit to go ahead 38-37 on a layup from Carter Wright.
The teams continued to trade baskets until a 7-0 run late in the quarter for the Phoenix (4-8).
Senior Greg Richardson hit a 3-pointer and a layup during the run and sophomore Aaron Hopkins’ putback capped it to give Oberlin a 52-44 lead.
Hopkins was a difference-maker on the boards, grabbing 16 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
“I’m not really tall for a center, but Coach put some confidence in me and I’ve been trying to bring energy to contribute to the team,” he said.
Open Door (6-7) responded with six straight points to pull within a possession with less than a minute remaining in the third, but Oberlin pulled away in the fourth quarter.
The Phoenix opened the fourth on a 10-2 run that saw four players score.
Oberlin took its first double-digit lead, 63-53, with 3:38 left on a driving layup from Greg Richardson. He was one of five Phoenix to score in double digits, chipping in 12.
Senior Darian Taylor, playing in his first game after missing the first 11 after transferring, made a huge impact with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“We stuck together as a team and had some guys really step up and show some leadership tonight,” Russell said.
Open Door took a 5-0 lead and found ways to stay in the game throughout. When Oberlin looked to be pulling away in the second quarter, Wright knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers followed by a Jared Bublinec layup to pull within 26-24.
Bublinec paced Open Door with 22 points, and Trey Brooks added 19.
“I thought we truly played a solid game and the kids just played really hard,” Open Door coach Todd Wright said. “We were out there playing and scrapping for each other and that’s promising going forward.”
Oberlin shot a blistering 55 percent from the field and dominated the rebounding department 37-27.
Despite the losing streak, the Phoenix remained confident and it showed in its play against Open Door.
“We’re going to be all right,” Hopkins said. “We are going to finish the season strong and it started tonight.”
Contact Paul Williams at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Oberlin 76, Open Door 63
OPEN DOOR (63): Trey Brooks 9-1-19, R.J. Stanford 2-0-4, Carter Wright 4-3-13, Grant Duffy 0-0-0, Jared Bublinec 9-1-22, Caleb Daniel 0-0-0, Mason Wiley 0-0-0, Gavin Dobbins 1-0-3, Maxx Wiley 1-0-2. Totals 26-5-63.
OBERLIN (76): Greg Richardson 5-0-12, Devan Yaber 6-1-15, Trajen Chambers 5-2-14, Giles Harrell 4-2-10, Azarie Hairston 0-0-0, Aaron Hopkins 4-1-9, Marcquis Aguiniga Moore 1-0-2, Darian Taylor 5-4-14, Jeremiah Austin 0-0-0. Total 30-10-76.
Open Door 11 22 16 14 — 63
Oberlin 12 25 18 21 — 76
Three-point goals: Open Door 6-16 (Wright 2, Bublinec 3, Dobbins), Oberlin 6-17 (Richardson 2, Yarber 2, Chambers 2); Field goals: Open Door 26-57 (45 percent), Oberlin 30-54 (55 percent); Free throws: Open Door 5-8 (62 percent), Oberlin 10-14 (71 percent); Rebounds: Open Door 27, Oberlin 37; Total fouls: Open Door 18, Oberlin 11; Turnovers: Open Door 18, Oberlin 11.
Junior varsity: Oberlin, 65-41