Region championships are something the Oxford Chargers and Lady Chargers are used to winning, so Friday’s accomplishments are no surprise.
Both teams earned regular-season Region 2-5A crowns Friday night with wins over New Hope on the road before returning home to sweep Amory in the OHS gym Saturday.
The Lady Chargers (24-0 overall) overcame a three-point deficit at the half to top New Hope 72-61 and matched its win total from last season in the process with a 70-24 win over Amory.
The Chargers (19-7) beat New Hope 64-58 to avenge an earlier season loss to the Trojans and then rallied to top Amory 65-62 on Saturday.
For Lady Chargers’ coach Shayne Linzy, the victory Friday was the first step in a set of goals the team set prior to the season.
“We won it last year and winning it two years in a row is fantastic. We really talked about it as it being our top priority. This was the first step to what we wanted to achieve. The second step now is obviously win the division tournament which is something we haven’t done here in a while,” Linzy said. “We won the regular season title last year but we lost to West Point in the tournament championship game. That stings. It stings a lot for me and I think it hurts the girls. They want to continue what they started and that is take each step to our ultimate goal.”
Linzy said that despite starting out slow against New Hope in the first encounter, his team didn’t start any quicker on the road. He said his assistant, Stacy Malone, made sure they improved heading into the third quarter.
“There was no talking going on. She got into them. I showed them a few things and then Stacy took care of the rest. We told them that just showing up is never going to be good enough. You have to play basketball,” Linzy said. “I think we thought we beat them once, it shouldn’t be a big deal this time. They’re still kids, 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds and sometimes it takes a little fire to wake them up. At the same time, I like seeing these type of games. How are we going to react? We haven’t had too many of these type of games this year and that’s because the girls have worked very hard. We’re not perfect, we still have things we have to get better at.
“One of the things I do like is if we’re having a bad night or whatever the case may be, somehow, someway, these girls find a way.”
Erika Sisk led the Lady Chargers with 23 points and 11 steals in the win over New Hope. Kristen Dickerson had 18 points, while Alexus Malone finished with 15. OHS outscored New Hope 28-10 in the third quarter to take control, with 10 coming from Sisk. Malone led OHS with 23 points in the win over Amory, while Sisk had 13.
Oxford coach Drew Tyler liked the toughness he saw from his team in the win over New Hope and the way they rallied back in the victory over Amory.
“We didn’t give up second shots (against New Hope). We did a good job on the defensive boards and I thought we got better as the game went along and I that is an identity I thought we would pick up earlier in the year where we played some gritty basketball,” Tyler said. “It was intense, loud environment. Being able to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the region and really just winning on the road against a pretty good guard-oriented team. We went into the year thinking we should be the regular season champs and we still had some unfinished business that we thought we should have finished earlier in the year.”
Romeo Johnson led Oxford with 19 points against New Hope and 30 in the win over Amory. Justin Fondren had 18 against New Hope and 12 against Amory. Luke Gibbs scored 13 against the Trojans, while Nick Brown scored 10 against Amory.
Oxford broke a 25-25 tie at the half by outscoring Amory 22-13 in the second half to earn a 47-38 win. Oxford (13-3 overall) was led by Michael McGhee’s 15-point effort. Oxford’s ninth-graders and junior varsity boys return to action tonight at Pontotoc. (January 30, 2012)