|Red Oak Wraps It Up
|RED OAK -- On a day when Red Oak Middle School honored its undefeated 2005 boys basketball team, the Tigers made even more history.
HE SHOOTS HE SCORES. Red Oak’s A.J. Styles delivers a layup during Monday’s victory against foe Southern Nash. (Graphic photos by Geoff Neville)
Eight years after that powerful squad, the Tigers repeated those undefeated heroics by capping off their 2012-13 campaign with a perfect record -- and a Tri-County Conference Championship.
Red Oak, coached by Jeff Dodrill, closed with an unblemished mark after stopping Southern Nash by a 45-25 margin.
With the win, Red Oak won the league title at 14-0, marking the fourth time the Tigers have won a conference crown.
One of those occasions came in 2005, led by current Western Carolina University star Trey Sumler.
Due to his commitments at WCU, Sumler was unable to attend Monday’s ceremony, which was performed at halftime of the boys contest.
Four performers from that club were in attendance -- Michael Speight, Chris Mizelle, Trey Bunn and Mike Williams.
During the game, Southern Nash played at a higher level than its previous 24-point loss to Red Oak, but the result was similar.
Dodrill took the opportunity to make sure all of his performers got to see playing time.
The Tigers scored 13 of the contest’s first 17 points and never looked back, though the Cobras got as close as seven points in the second period.
But Red Oak would finish off the first half with a 6-0 surge that featured four clutch points from Raymond Bullock, who offered a strong all-around effort.
Leading 27-10 at the break, Red Oak continued to pull away in the third frame, thanks in part to some relentless play in the paint from Tyler Polensky.
At one point in the quarter, Polensky delivered seven consecutive points, all the while dominating the glass on both ends of the court.
Polensky’s freebie with four ticks remaining in the stanza gave Red Oak an insurmountable 38-14 advantage going into the final six minutes.
Polensky would pace the ROMS’ offensive attack with 13 points, followed by Bullock with 12 tallies.
One game earlier, the Tigers have put their perfect mark on the line during a road trip to Edwards last Thursday afternoon.
ROMS had defeated the T-Birds earlier in the campaign, but that was the only game Edwards had lost, so Dodrill was expecting a toughie in the highly anticipated rematch.
Red Oak would claim a 34-26 thriller in overtime.
Darius Spragley came through with four clutch free throws in the final period to force an extra session.
The Tigers would then dominate the overtime by outscoring Edwards 10-2.
After surging ahead, ROMS converted several free throws down the stretch to pull away.
Ironically, Red Oak’s 2005 club also won a memorable overtime game against Edwards en route to winning the championship.
“The last game (against SN) wasn’t the prettiest one -- I think the kids came in a little nervous,’’ Dodrill said. “But people won’t remember that next week. They will remember that we won the conference championship.
“The season as a whole was very pleasing. I told the guys to celebrate it and enjoy it -- it might not happen again to them.’’