Intense OC shows Milan the door

Intense OC shows Milan the door
Intense OC shows Milan the door

Obion Central’s Tanner Noles put up a 3 during the Rebels’ triumph on Monday.
DYERSBURG — The Obion Central boys showed Milan no love in the third quarter on Valentine’s Day.
The Rebels ramped up their defensive efforts and outscored the Bulldogs 26-9 in said canto en route to a 67-49 triumph in the District 13AA Tournament’s play-in game.
“It all started with how intense our defense was coming out of halftime,” OC boys’ coach Bill Kail said. “It was really good in the third quarter. That sparked some fast breaks and opened up the chance to score in transition, but not just with lay-ups.
“We were also able to kick it out for some 3’s, too.”
With the triumph, Obion Central (12-16) advances to the quarterfinals of the 13AA Tournament. The Rebels will play at Covington — the state’s No. 2-ranked double-A team — on Wednesday at 8 p.m. with a berth in the district semifinals and Region 7AA Tournament on the line.
OC’s last trip to the Chargers’ court resulted in disaster to the tune of the program’s lowest point output ever and a 71-19 defeat (Jan. 18).
“It’s always tough to play Covington in their gym, but I’m looking forward to it because it means we’re still alive in the postseason and that beats the alternative,” Kail said. “Hopefully, it’ll be a better showing than the last time we were there.”
Ahead by just a point (24-23) at halftime on Monday, the Rebels stormed out of the locker room and put an offensive hurting on the Bulldogs.
Mike Klein busted a trifecta from the left corner just seconds into the third quarter and Christian Higgins followed suit with a trey of his own to put the Rebels up by seven.
Jacob Wade bottomed a deuce to cap Obion Central’s quarter-opening 8-0 run and make the count 32-23 in favor of the county locals.
Then, Milan (3-22) pieced together a 10-2 run of its own to get to within a pair.
However, the Rebels closed the third quarter with a 16-0 blanking of the Bulldogs to build a 50-32 cushion with eight minutes remaining.
During the 16-0 run, Tanner Noles dialed long distance twice and also added a pair of free throws after a technical was issued to Bulldog big man Thomas Caldwell and Wade accounted for a pair of buckets. Bryan Morris and Joshua Gale each dropped in a deuce during what turned out to be the game-changing spurt at the end of the third.
In the fourth quarter, Obion Central kept Milan down by at least 10 points. The Rebels stretched their lead to 20 on one occasion. In the final four minutes, OC allowed just two Bulldog buckets.
Meanwhile, OC was money at the charity stripe in the fourth period, hitting 10-of-14 free throws down the stretch to put Milan away once and for all.
Gale was steady for Central with a team-high 16 points.
OC’s other seniors — Wade and Noles — both had 13 tallies. All but two of Noles’ markers came in the second half.
Additionally, both Wade and Gale pulled down eight rebounds, with the former also making five steals and the latter having four takeaways.
The Rebels were without the services of guard Eric Torres, who missed Monday’s contest due to a shoulder injury suffered in the team’s Saturday victory over Dyersburg. Kail was unsure of Torres would be ready to go on Wednesday.
For Milan, freshman Trey Belew accumulated a team-high 13 points, while Brandon Hudson offered 11 during the defeat.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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