O'Neal Boys Win, Girls Fall in Hoops Openers
The O’Neal School boys’ basketball team got its season off to a positive start Friday with a 45-22 home win over Lee Christian.
The Falcons (1-0) were powered by a monster performance from sophomore Jacob Talbert, who showed off his versatility with both strong perimeter and interior play that resulted in 29 points. Senior Charlie Johnson scored six points, while fellow senior Stephen Chamberlain had four. Colin Jameson, Jake Lange and John Roger Moore each chipped in a bucket.
This year’s squad is rebuilding following the departure of seven seniors last year. Head coach David Graves thought his team put forth a “tremendous effort” Friday, but added that there’s still plenty of work to do.
“We made a lot of mistakes and we’ve got a long way to go to be the team that I want us to be,” he said, “but our effort was, I think, outstanding. We played hard, from the first guy off the bench to all five starters. We had a great effort. And if we continue to play with that kind of effort, then I think that we can give teams a lot of trouble. As the season goes on I think we’ll execute a little better. And we’ll be a threat to some of the teams in our conference.”
Talbert started his night off by drilling a three-pointer on O’Neal’s first possession and didn’t slow down. The Falcons jumped out to a 9-1 advantage early and maintained a comfortable lead throughout the game.
Talbert hit two more threes in the first half en route to 16 points. He also had a nice block on a Lee Christian breakaway about a minute before halftime, much to the delight of the camouflage-clad “superfan” student section that was loud throughout the game. O’Neal took a 24-12 lead into the break.
“I just came out here to play ball and I was feeling it tonight,” Talbert said of his performance.
Talbert scored 11 of O’Neal’s 13 third-quarter points, doing most of the damage in the paint. The Falcon defense was just as a good during that span, holding Lee Christian to just one basket.
O’Neal led by as many as 25 points in the contest.
“The amazing thing is that Jacob Talbert is a sophomore,” Graves said. “He is a tremendous player. He has so much talent. He’s really a student of the game. You saw several times during the game where there were missed shots and he read the rebound and came in and got easy baskets, and it’s just because it’s court awareness. At 15 years old, that’s amazing that someone can have the athleticism and the ability to read things on the floor that he has, and I hope I’m still coaching here when he’s a senior. He’s a tremendous asset to this team and makes a coach look good.”
Graves was also pleased with the play of his freshman point guard Moore, who he thought did a nice job leading the team while overcoming the expected first-game nerves.
Graves thought the win was a good first step toward his team building some confidence. He said it needs to work on executing its offense a little better and eliminating mistakes.
“But it’s a starting point and these guys know they can play,” he added. “We’ll get better starting with our next practice.”
James Mlynczak led Lee Christian with 13 points.
Girls Rally, but Fall Short
Things were looking grim for the Lady Falcons basketball team after it was shut out by Lee Christian in the first half, but the girls never gave up.
Snake-bitten by turnovers and an unforgiving rim, O’Neal (0-1) found itself in a 14-0 hole at halftime. But the Lady Falcons found their offense in the second half, going on six- and seven-point scoring runs before ultimately falling 24-17.
“That’s my team,” head coach Don Woodfield said after the game, “and if nothing else, I will praise them until I don’t see them ever again because they fight hard and that’s exactly what I want from my team. And they have that. They hustle.”
The girls also picked up their game defensively in the second half when Woodfield switched from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man, despite being shorthanded. The Lady Falcons outscored Lee Christian in the second half.
After Lee Christian extended the lead to 16-0, Ginny Woollens and Maura Thornton each knocked down jumpers to get things rolling for O’Neal. Mary Winston Dozier started a 6-0 run with a bank shot. Claire Russell swished a jump shot of her own before Mary Dixon hit a shot from the baseline to cut the lead to 18-10.
Lee Christian responded with a 6-0 run of it’s own to put the game out of reach, but the Lady Falcons went on a 7-0 run to close out the game. Dixon hit two free throws and a three pointer, while Russell put in a layup.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the first half. The first basket wasn’t scored until nearly six minutes into the game.
Dixon paced O’Neal with seven points. Russell had four, while Thornton, Dozier and Woollens each had two.
Erica Davidson led Lee Christian with 14 points.
Contact John Krahnert III at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story