PICKERING – With season winding down, No. 18 Pickering has a chance to claim a district title this week.
The Red Devils held off Oakdale to pick up a 75-62 win Tuesday night at home to keep its title hopes alive.
The win puts Pickering at 17-12 overall and 8-1 in district play, and the Red Devils take on district leader Vinton Friday night on the road.
"I'm just going to try and play to our strengths," Pickering head coach Brandon Jordan said. "One-on-one, each player, I think we're a better team. I'm going to go back to basic and try and beat them that way. I think we're more talented."
The Red Devil offense was on fire coming out of the gates, scoring 29 points in the first quarter to up 29-20.
"I felt like we played good in spurts," Jordan said. "When you score 29 points, even though you gave up 20, that's a good quarter. We hit some shots in the first quarter, but those shots didn't fall in the second quarter. That's how the game got close. We were close to blowing them out. We beat them by 38 at their place, but the way they shot tonight is how we shot at their place."
A layup by Xavier Evans put Pickering up 11 midway through the second quarter, but Oakdale went on a 6-0 run to trail 39-34 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Oakdale took a 49-47 lead, but a 3-pointer by Ahmad Fleming tied it up at 54.
"We rested after that 29-point quarter we had," Jordan said. "Before they took the lead, I took us out of our half-court trap that we do. It wasn't working, so we went to man."
In the fourth quarter, DeShawn Jackson took over, attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line.
The sophomore guard scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"He started beating his man one-on-one, and then the help would come," Jordan said. "He found a crease and got to the rim. Even if we finish second in the district to Vinton, he's the best player in this district and probably the most valuable."
Jackson went on a 6-0 run with under three minutes to play to put Pickering up 69-64.
The Red Devils have multiple chances to put Oakdale away but struggled from the free throw line, going just 11-19 from the stripe in the final period.
"I don't know if it is legs that did it or if it was focus," Jordan said. "All the things that helped us in the first quarter – all the emotion and adrenaline – might have hurt us."
Jackson capped off the game with a dunk in the final seconds as the Red Devil picked up another win.
Jackson led Pickering with 29 points, and Evans added 18 points. Zion Barrett scored 15 in the victory.