The visiting Octorara Braves led by as many as 10 points early in the second half, but when the Hornets starting making some shots to go along with a stifling defense, Oxford was able to force overtime and walk out with a 49-46 win."I thought we played good defense the entire game," said Oxford coach Sean Harvey. "We just did not hit our shots in the first half, but still only gave up 20 some points in the first half. I think our defense is our strong suit this year. I think our strong schedule has made us a better basketball team overall. We are the only team in our Division who plays the entire other Division of the Ches-Mont. Add Academy Park, Pottstown, Solanco, and Chichester and that forces us to get better throughout the season. All these close games will make us stronger come playoff time." Octorara held a 24-17 lead at the half, and upped that lead to 10 early in the third, thanks to 10 first half points from Nigel Davis, who finished with 15- points for the Braves. But then Oxford started playing an aggressive press that seemed to frustrate the Braves, who began to turn the ball over, and the Hornets took advantage.
"Our press can be very effective if the kids are really playing hard and rotating as they are supposed to," said Harvey. "I was pleased that we never panicked or never quit. The kids really are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence and think they can win any and every game no matter what the score." Darren El, who was held to just two buckets in the first half, took off in the second, notching 17 of his game-high 21 points over the final eight minutes and overtime. After the Braves' Moses Togbah missed the front end of a one-and-one with Octorara up by two and just 3.2-seconds on the clock remaining, El ran the court and put up a lay-up.
The ball bounced off the rim, but teammate Derek Allen was right there to put it back in on the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
"I told the kids in the locker room that it was one of the most athletic plays I have seen in my lifetime," Harvey said of Allen's heroics. "And for him to do that at the end of a game makes it even more special. I have told anyone who wants to listen that he has a clock that does not stop ticking. Very few athletes have that in them, but he does." Allen finished with eight points for the Hornets, while Brennan Robinson joined El in double digits with 11.
With the win, the Hornets' improved to 10-3 on the season, but more importantly, picked up a victory over a league rival.
"I look at all league wins as big wins since we only have 10 of them this year, we have no room to fall too far behind Great Valley," said Harvey. "All league games have a lot of meaning so we need to win all of them. It is always tough playing Octorara because Gene and I are such good friends and both teams know each other so well. There is mutual respect between both schools and the games are always well played and hard fought. I know they will be more than ready for us the next time we play."