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2A No. 11 Oak Hill dominates 2A No. 5 Tipton

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

MIER -- The dividends from playing a brutal midseason schedule may be starting to pay off for the Oak Hill boys basketball team. And with the state tournament draw happening Sunday, it couldn’t be happening at a better time.

Class 2A No. 11 Oak Hill put together another complete performance to win its fourth straight game and seventh in the last eight Tuesday night in a dominant, 59-42 win over 2A No. 5 Tipton. Since losing to 4A No. 15 Lawrence North on Jan. 20, the Golden Eagles have been clicking on nearly all cylinders.

“We’ve been doing that for the last two or three games, so the key was are we gonna be able to do it against a quality basketball team, a team that has a legitimate claim to get to Bankers Life,” said Oak Hill coach Kevin Renbarger. “We played well on both ends of the floor. We executed on offense, and defensively, we were as sound as we have been in the matchup for the last two or three years.”

Oak Hill trailed for all of 10 seconds, at 2-0 just over two minutes into the contest, but senior Caleb Middlesworth knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 14-2 close to the quarter and a 14-4 lead.

Middlesworth scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, seven coming in the first three minutes of the second quarter to help the Golden Eagles extend to a 23-6 advantage. 

Tipton was forced to settle for contested jump-shots most of the first half and hit just 2 of 9 in the opening quarter.

The Blue Devils clawed back within 31-19 at halftime on the back of junior Carson Dolezal. Dolezal scored 10 points in the second quarter, eight in the last three minutes. He would lead the Blue Devils with 18 for the game.

Middlesworth and Spencer Ballinger proved to be a handful in the post and the duo combined for 25 of the Golden Eagles 31 points in the first 16 minutes. 

But the Blue Devils adjusted defensively and made getting in inside tougher and in turn closed their deficit to 33-26 less than two minutes into the second half.

“Our kids know how good of a team Tipton is and they’re a good third quarter basketball team,” Renbarger said. “They make adjustments then they come out and punch you in the mouth. Our kids earlier in the year probably wouldn’t have reacted too terribly well with that and they I felt like they did tonight. They didn’t flinch at all.”

The Golden Eagles took Tipton’s early flurry and took a 42-33 lead into the final quarter after Dolezal buried a triple at the buzzer.

In the first six minutes of the final quarter, the Golden Eagles reassumed total control. Oak Hill matched its second quarter shooting effort by hitting 7 of 9 from the field, and outscored Tipton 17-5 to build a 59-38 lead and cruised home with an impressive win.

Senior point guard Tyce Frank scored nine of his 10 points in the second half, six in the final eight minutes to help Oak Hill pull away. 

“The first half they couldn’t stop us in the post so we kept feeding it in there,” Frank said. “The second half they started doubling it and that opened other stuff up for me to drive the lanes.”

Ballinger ended with 17 points and led the Golden Eagles with 11 rebounds while David Arens scored seven and Konnor Cabe added four.

Oak Hill blistered the nets by shooting nearly 67 percent (25 of 38). The Golden Eagles missed just two shots in three of the four quarters and finished 5 of 11 from long range.

Tipton ended 15 of 37 from the field, and hit 6 of 18 from long range.  

“They’re a team that does a lot shot faking, a lot of ball faking and a lot of ball movement, and they’re waiting for you to break down,” Renbarger noted about the Blue Devils. For our kids to maintain all of those defensive fundamentals they needed to is a credit to them buying in to what they needed to do to win tonight.

“That’s as sound as we’ve been on the defensive end all year,” he added.

Ballinger added of Oak Hill’s defensive effort, “The biggest thing was communication. We kind of lacked that earlier this season and we’ve tried to step that up.”

Oak Hill (16-5) wraps up Central Indiana Conference play Friday at Elwood.

The Golden Eagles finish the season with a pair of home games next week, hosting Northwestern on Tuesday and Northfield on Feb. 23.