Coalfield, TN –
Waylon Burgess had been the highlight of Coalfield’s offense this season, but it would be Jaiden Bunch who emerged as the team’s leading scoring threat in the Yellow Jackets 53-39 loss to the Oliver Springs Bobcats on Friday night at John Jackson Memorial Gymnasium.
Burgess, the sophomore shooting guard who had received regional attention for his offensive performances earlier this season was contained for only 14 points by Oliver Springs (11-8, 5-1 in 1A-District 3) who flexed their depth in the win over longtime rival Coalfield (1-10, 0-3 in 1A-District 3).
The opening tip-off went out of bounds off of Oliver Springs, but Coalfield turned the ball over quickly which led to junior Mason Day scoring the first points of the game for the Bobcats.
Transitioning from the next missed shot by the Yellow Jackets, the Bobcats got the ball to senior forward Hayden Wright who pulled up a three-pointer that found the bottom of the net to give Oliver Springs an early 6-0 lead.
Coalfield Head Coach Shelley Burgess called a timeout where he reminded his team, "Take care of the ball," and after the message, the Yellow Jackets tightened up their offense and began challenging the Bobcats underneath the basket with Bunch, the sophomore guard, attacking the basket and getting to the foul line for the Yellow Jackets first point of the game.
“(Bunch has) the ability to be a good player, he’s not played basketball in a couple of years, so he’s just getting into the flow of things,” coach Burgess said of the three-sport athlete who led the team in scoring with 17 points.
Burgess, another sophomore guard on a Coalfield team that has 10 of its 14 players as underclassmen challenged the Bobcats again beneath the rim and hit another basket to cut into the Oliver Springs lead, but the quarter ended with the Bobcats leading 10-6.
“We’ve been talking to them all year about somebody stepping up and being a leader,” coach Burgess said of his young team. “Waylon Burgess he’s one of our primary players, he has to be more vocal.”
Coalfield senior guard Matthew Denton, who could not get a shot off in the first quarter, found the bottom of the net with a big three-pointer early in the second quarter that gave Coalfield its first lead of the game at 11-10, then Oliver Springs turned the ball over on a travel, which set up Bunch on the other end of the court for a three-pointer that extended the Yellow Jackets lead and brought the crowd to its feet.
The rivalry emotion began to boil over, and the Bobcats' bench received a technical foul that sent Coalfield back to the free throw line, but the Yellow Jackets' lead was short-lived, as senior forward Javen Barger began to impose his presence inside as a part of a 9-0 run that ended the first half with the Bobcats retaking the lead 21-18.
Oliver Springs opened the third quarter with its most aggressive play of the game, and it put Coalfield in a position where it had to challenge inside shots that led to the Bobcats drawing 4 fouls in the first 1:59 of the third quarter.
Bunch hit another three-pointer, and cut the lead back to 26-23, but it would be the closest Coalfield would come to retaking the lead in the second half, as Barger took over for the Bobcats on route to 20 points on the night.
Coalfield junior forward Levi Heidel challenged Barger inside, drawing a foul, and although he missed both free throws, it was Barger’s third foul of the game.
The fourth quarter opened with Barger picking up his fourth foul of the game, but the opportunity to go inside that opened up for Coalfield, quickly closed as Oliver Springs came to life offensively, even in the absence of Barger.
“We have sickness right now, and we have no depth, and it showed late in the game,” coach Burgess said of his team fading late in the fourth quarter.
Oliver Springs outscored Coalfield 15-6 over the final 5 minutes of the game with Bobcats sophomore guard Ethan Jones bringing his scoring total to 15 points, as Oliver Springs flexed its depth and size throughout the final minutes of the contest.
Coach Burgess knows what his teams’ areas of opportunity are, “we have to be more physical, we got to outrebound it on offense. We have to clean that up.”
The MVP of the game is Javen Barger. Barger imposed his size early on Coalfield in a 20-point scoring performance, and his aggressive defense forced the Yellow Jackets to take shots outside to try to open up the Oliver Springs defense.
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Oliver Springs 10 11 13 19 - 53
Coalfield 6 12 8 13 - 39
Oliver Springs (11-8):
Javen Barger 20, Ethan Jones 15, Hayden Wright 8
Jaiden Bunch 17, Waylon Burgess 14, Zach Hamby 4
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