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Phoenix News · Phoenix rally in fourth quarter for win


By Dan Gilles, Sports@MorningJournal.com@MJournalSports on Twitter

 Trailing by 11 points with six minutes remaining Jan. 8, a two-win Oberlin team might have normally taken its loss and lived to fight another day.

But on this night, the Phoenix weren’t ready to take that loss.

Led by sophomore Victoria Jackson’s 12 fourth-quarter points and two huge 3-pointers from senior Cameron Payne, Oberlin rallied all the way back and held off host Open Door Christian, 58-55, in a nonconference girls basketball game.

Oberlin (3-8) outscored the Patriots (5-5), 24-10, over the final six minutes to come away with the stunning victory.

“The main problem was we started off really slow – sluggish with no energy at all,” Oberlin coach Tiffany Shields said. “We talked to them at halftime and told them the energy would be the difference in this game and we needed to pick it up. (Open Door) was outhustling us and they had way more energy in the first half.

“Once we picked that up, that changed our whole game. We did a better job boxing out underneath and especially hitting our free throws in the second half, those made a big difference.”

Jackson, who finished with a game-high 23 points, got the run started with a steal and a converted layup. The Phoenix defense forced 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone – 32 turnovers overall – that played a big part in their comeback.

The layup started a 10-0 run that cut the deficit from 45-34 to 45-44 with 5:02 left.

Open Door staved off the rally with a few key buckets from sophomore Emily McClain, who led the Patriots with 19. Her free throw with 3:05 left gave the Patriots a 51-49 lead.

However, on the ensuing trip down the floor, Payne drilled her third and final 3-pointer of the game, giving Oberlin its first lead since an early 11-10 first quarter advantage, 52-51, with 2:52 remaining.

From there, the Phoenix outscored Open Door, 9-4, to hold on to that lead. Open Door did tie it at 54 with 1:14 remaining on a layup from McClain off of a turnover, but Jackson sank four consecutive free throws down the stretch to clinch the huge comeback win.

“At first, we were complaining about some calls we didn’t get and some calls they did get,” said Jackson, who shot 8-for-19 from the floor and 7-for-10 from the line. “But, in that last quarter, we learned to just keep our composure and not worry about what they were and were not calling and just worry about our team and what we can control.

“I think, at the end of the game, we did a much better job passing the ball to the open girls – seeing the basket. We had some clutch steals at the end, and I think we just worked more together down the stretch.”

Open Door did have one last chance to either tie or take the lead. Trailing 56-55 with 14 seconds left, junior Emily Werley went to the line. Werley finished with 15 points, but failed to convert both chances.

McClain also split a pair of free throws with 55 seconds left that, had she made both, could have tied the game.

“I think it was really important for our confidence,” Jackson said. “Our goal coming into this year was just to improve each game and get better as the year goes on. We just keep improving and it showed tonight. I think we’ll turn up with a lot more wins coming up later in the season.”

Payne finished with 13, while Ajia Witherspoon added nine off the bench for the Phoenix.

“I think this was great,” Shields said. “This was a big difference from previous years. I think they were used to just being down and out at the end of games, but we’ve preaching to them all season that they can compete in every game with every team we go up against. They harnessed that energy to win the game tonight.”