GETTING BUCKETS- OFA senior forward Chris Backa scored 14 points against Pontchatrain Christian. Photo by Matthew Roy.
By Jesse Brooks
AMITE- The Oak Forest Academy boys basketball team defeated Pontchatrain Christian Academy 74-25 to close out the regular season with a 19-8 overall record. Junior shooting guard La’Vell Scott led all scorers with 17 points.
PCA opened the first quarter with a 7-2 run, but things flipped quickly after the Yellow Jackets went into a full court press to score off of three straight steals and gain a 8-7 advance in less than a minute.
“We saw a weakness and we went after it and went into our 2-1-2 full court press for about 8-10 minutes,” OFA Coach Curtis Matherne said. “We built a comfortable lead and then we were able to work on some things we would like to do against Jackson Prep in the playoffs.”
OFA ended the first quarter on an 18-2 run, mostly a result from getting points off of turnovers with senior point guard Janero Porter, who totaled 10 points, directing traffic. Braxten McGovern (10 points total) and senior forward Chris Backa were scored most of the layups in the final minutes of the first quarter to result in a 20-9 score.
Both teams appeared to come out cold in the second period, but OFA found a spark when Backa’s second block of the evening turned into a fast break layup for Porter on the other end over two defenders. The Jackets closed out the first half on a 12-3 run that included two 3-pointers by Backa inside of the final minute. Backa was the team’s second leading scorer with 14points.
“Chris was giving us his his all, but I don’t think we had him in the right position to succeed,” Matherne said. “We moved him outside where’s more comfortable handling the ball, shooting and making things happen off of the bounce. Since that happened, he’s been a completely different player.”
The Jackets set the tone in the second half with senior Carter Blanchard scoring on a fast break layup coming right out of the gate. Later in the game, Scott hit two 3-pointers, and Jon Jovi hit one from beyond the arc to command a 58-22 lead in the fourth quarter.
“La’Vell had to miss eight games for personal reasons, but we’re bringing him off the bench now and he’s playing and practicing hard,” Matherne said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. Not only does he make us better overall, he’s given us a spark off the bench that we’ve been missing.”
The MAIS AAAA Div. 1 State Tournament playoff system will begin next week on Tuesday, February 20 at Presbyterian Christian, and the Jackets are scheduled to face Jackson Prep in the first round.
“We want to thank the home crowd,” Matherne said. “We’ve had unbelievable home crowds this and it has to be fun for the guys to play in front of them. We thank you for the support. We’re going to go up to Hattiesburg next week and hopefully make Oak Forest even more proud of these guys.”