PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Oakwood beats Westville, claims 20th victory

Jan. 31—WESTVILLE — Neither Oakwood coach Jeff Mandrell nor Westville coach Ed Barney could full comprehend Tuesday's Vermilion Valley Conference boys basketball game between the Comets and the Tigers.

On one hand, Mandrell saw his squad knock down eight first-half 3-pointers on its way to a 37-18 halftime advantage.

On the other hand, Barney saw his squad score 11 unanswered points in the second half and pull within 47-41 with 4 minutes, 39 seconds left.

In the end, Oakwood made just enough free throws in the game's final minutes to pull out a 57-45 victory over Westville.

"They got that 3 right at the end of the half, but I was really happy with our first half," said Mandrell, whose team led by as much as 22 points. "I definitely think we won it early.

"Getting ahead was important, because that was a brutal third quarter. At least, we staved them off."

But, why did Oakwood (20-6 overall, 8-1 in the VVC) go from eight 3-pointers in the first half to just one in the second half.

"They changed their defense and we weren't expecting it," admitted Oakwood senior guard Brody Taflingerm who scored a team-high 19 points — 13 of those in the first half. "I think it rattled us, but we found a way to turn it around before they got the lead in the fourth quarter."

Mandrell admitted he was going to have to watch the video closely to see what changes needed to be made.

"We definitely didn't get as many open shots," he said. "We got some drives, but it seemed like we were just throwing the ball up at the basket.

"Instead of being patient and getting some movement on offense, we were forcing things. I think we could have handled it better."

On the other side, Barney was pleased with his team for fighting back.

"We went to our man-to-man defense and we made some adjustments on the offensive end at halftime," he said. "We had it down to 6 points (47-41) at one point, but we just couldn't finish the comeback."

Barney felt one of the biggest problems for the Tigers (17-7 overall, 5-3 in the VVC) in the first half was just missing layups.

"We had three or four missed layups and that's at least six points that we gave away," he said. "Give them credit, they were shooting well but we weren't getting out and contesting their shots when we were playing zone. That's why we switched to our man-to-man defense."

With postseason play starting in less than three weeks, Tuesday's contest was important for seeding as Oakwood and Westville are both part of the 12-team Shelbyville Sub-Sectional B.

"Right now, we are both in the middle of the pack," said Mandrell as nine of the 12 teams currently have winning records. "This could give us a home game in the regional quarterfinal. Any win is going to help with our sub-sectional seeding, especially considering the teams around Decatur probably don't know much about either one of us. But, now, they will see that we won the head-to-head matchup."

Taflinger noted that Tuesday's game is also a good lesson for the Comets, who are 9-1 during the 2024 calendar year.

"This shows that we need to go hard all of time against any team that we might play," he said.

Joining Taflinger in double figures were seniors Jackson Dudley (17 points) and Alec Harrison (11).

Sophomore Matthew Darling came off the bench to lead Westville with 19 points, while senior Drew Wichtowski wound up with 13 in the losing cause.

Oakwood 57, Westville 45

Oakwood (57) — Brody Taflinger 7 2-3 19, Cort Vermillion 2 1-1 6, Carson Dudley 1 1-2 4, Jackson Dudley 6 1-2 17, Alec Harrison 5 1-6 11, Bryson McDaniel 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 6-14 57.

Westville (45) — Easton Barney 1 0-0 2, Cameron Steinbaugh 3 0-0 7, Drew Wichtowski 4 3-4 13, Cade Schaumburg 0 0-0 0, Tyler Miller 2 0-2 4, Aiden Skinner 0 0-0 0, Matthew Darling 7 2-2 19. Totals: 17 5-8 45.

Oakwood 15 22 6 14 — 57

Westville 6 12 17 10 — 45

3-pointers — Oakwood 9 (J.Dudley 4, Taflinger 3, Vermilion 1, C.Dudley 1). Westville 6 (Darling 3, Wichtowski 2, Steinbaugh 1). Total fouls — Oakwood 10, Westville 14. Fouled out — none.

Records — Oakwood 20-6 overall, 7-1 in the Vermilion Valley Conference. Westville 17-7 overall, 5-3 in the VVC.