COLE CAMP — In the battle of the last two unbeaten boys basketball teams in the Kaysinger Conference, the Cole Camp Bluebirds used a 24-6 second quarter run to pull away from Green Ridge and win 81-63 on Tuesday at Robert Farrington Court.
“We just started playing it out and playing the game how it’s played,” said Cole Camp center Tanner Oelrichs. “We hit some shots that really helped to boost us up a little bit. Everybody got pumped up. Everybody was working together.”
The game was tied 21-21 with 6:53 left in the second quarter when Cole Camp’s Michael Brockman hit a jumper. Moments later Gunner Williams was fouled hitting a pull-up jumper and converted the 3-point play. Then Brockman and Oelrichs combined for the next 16 Bluebird points.
Over the course of the run the Bluebirds (18-3, 8-0) hit 10 of 18 from the field while Green Ridge (14-5, 6-1) turned the ball over eight times and shot 2 of 10.
“We had some defensive breakdowns,” said Green Ridge coach Jason Ollison. “When you’re going against that kind of pressure the whole night, it just wears on you mentally. This is our first time at this, playing at this kind of level with this much on the line.”
Green Ridge entered the game 6-0 in conference but had yet to play the Kaysinger’s three best teams. For nine minutes, the Tigers kept it close.
“We played with a lot of energy,” Ollison said. “We weren’t knocking down shots but our defense was there. We were getting rotations.”
Cole Camp got two 3-pointers from Timothy Ward, but Green Ridge answered with a basket inside by Austin Story, a layup from Axton Harding and another drive by Story. Justin McCarthy followed that with a 3-pointer with two minutes left in the first quarter to cut it to 14-13 Cole Camp.
Ward opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 21-17 Cole Camp, but after a Tiger free throw, Story hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.
“We are usually a pretty good pressing or half-court trapping team,” said Cole Camp coach Tom Ward. “I didn’t think we had the energy at the start, but we were able to switch to something we hadn’t used in a while, our 1-3-1 (zone) and our length. We were able to get into some passing lanes, and once we get running we’re pretty dangerous.”
Cole Camp hit 6 of 13 from 3-point range with Brockman and Timothy Ward each hitting three.
“When they start making them outside (the defense) starts playing off and it becomes wide open in the lane,” Oelrichs said.
Oelrichs finished with 31 points, including 12 of his team’s 19 second-chance points.
“That’s what we work on is getting on the glass,” Tom Ward said. “We’ve got good length. The kids have played with each other a long time so they know where each other is going to be. We get to the right spot a lot.”
Brockman scored 27. Timothy Ward added 11.
“I think all of our kids did a good job,” Tom Ward said. “We got some good minutes off the bench. We rebounded OK, not as well as I think we could have. But you put up 81 points, I’m not too unhappy with our offensive side of the ball.”
Off of 19 first half baskets, the Bluebirds had 17 assists.
“One of our goals for the season is to have as many assists as we can,” Tom Ward said. “We have kids who can score but they’re willing to sacrifice to give somebody else a good shot. It’s a joy to be around them right now.”
Green Ridge was led by Story with 15 points. The Tigers face Tipton on Thursday before opening the Kaysinger Conference Tournament.
“We’re going to get better,” Ollison said. “Now we’ve played in a game that matters on a big stage on the road. That’s going to help us. We’re going to understand that it’s not inconceivable for us to win these kinds of games.”
Cole Camp, which has clinched at least a share of the league title, will close out the Kaysinger Conference regular-season portion of the schedule on Thursday against Windsor.
“We’ve got one more game and if we’re lucky enough to win we’ll be conference champs,” Tom Ward said.