Darren El claimed a spot in Oxford's basketball record books (see sidebar), reaching the 1000- point plateau with a lay-up early in the first period against Downingtown West. The talented senior hoopster led all scorers with 27-points on the afternoon, but it wasn't enough as the visiting Whippets walked out of the Oxford gym with a 54-40 win that was far closer than the score would indicate.The Hornets got off on the right foot, taking a 10-4 lead late into the first period on six points from El and another four from Brennan Robinson, who finished with 10 on the day. But the Whippets came back in the second, tying the game at 15-15 with 4:38 to play in the half.
At the end of three, it was 36- 31 in favor of West, and they had bumped up to a nine-point advantage minutes later. But the Hornets chipped away at the leaduntil they were down by just three with just barely over three minutes to play, and then the wheels came off.
While the whistles came fast and furious over the final eight minutes, it seemed as though just about every call was going against the Hornets. With about three minutes remaining, El attacked the basket and was tackled to the floor, but drew no foul call. Then, seconds later at the other end, a Hornet defender brushed past a shooting Whippet and was whistled for an intentional foul - Whippet bucket, two free throws, and Whippet possession and subsequent score.
"I try not to say too much about officiating," said Harvey.
"But they were mugging Darren all day and getting away with it, and then the foul on the other end took a three point game and made it eight. I don't want to take anything away from Downingtown, they are a good team and wellcoached, but it's a shame when adults take the game out of the hands of the kids." Earlier in the week, the Hornets nailed down a big win over Unionville, 50-47. Not only was it a key win over a Division rival, but the Hornets took some pressure off El by putting four different players in double-digits.
"We need to have that kind of balance down the line," said Harvey. "There's going to be nights when Darren can carry the load by himself, but there will be just as many when he can't, and we need these other guys to step it up on those occasions."
El's 12 points led the way against Unionville, but also scoring in double digits were Derek Allen, Galen Pugh and Justin Curry, who each chipped in with 10 points.
Despite the loss to West, the Hornets are currently 5-1 in the league, with a game this past Tuesday against Great Valley that would put the winner in the driver's seat for the Division title. According to Harvey, being the only team in its Division to play all the schools from the other is proving to be an advantage.
"Obviously, playing the kind of schedule I make every year might cost us a few losses, but so be it," said Harvey. "It makes us a better basketball team for late in the year, and gives us better exposure, and some of these kids more exposure. That's the most important part of my job--getting kids into college."