WALES — Oak Hill took a lead over Buckfield midway through the first quarter and never relinquished it during Monday’s boys basketball game at Oak Hill High School.

The Raiders even held the Bucks scoreless for more than nine minutes in the first half en route to a 53-32 Mountain Valley Conference victory.

Ramon Spearman made his season debut for the Raiders (3-2) after missing the first games of the season, and the 6-foot-2 senior quickly made an impact, grabbing five rebounds and scoring a layup while adding two assists in the first quarter.

Spearman finished with eight points, two steals and 10 rebounds. He also gave the Raiders an energy boost.

“I grew up loving the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan, obviously, and Dennis Rodman,” Spearman said when asked where his energy comes from. “His number one thing was rebounds and it’s more than just scoring it’s rebounds, passing, defense and having hustle and heart. I have all those things.”

Caden Thompson scored a game-high 15 points for Oak Hill.

The Raiders started the game in a 1-3-1 full-court press and used it throughout the game to try and force turnovers. Spearman was a big part of that defense, stealing a couple balls and forcing errant passes.

“We were on that,” Spearman said of the press. “I haven’t really practiced that much since I’ve been out, but the team helped me.”

“It’s good to have him back,” Oak Hill coach Tom Smith said. “He’s been out because of COVID so I didn’t have him the first couple games, and he makes a big difference. We came out with the press, the 1-3-1, and we turned it up and got a few 10-second calls. We don’t necessarily trap out of it, but we force turnovers and he makes a big difference.”

Oak Hill jumped out to a 7-2 lead before Buckfield (0-4) came back and took the lead thanks to six points from Jaiden Jack, who finished with a team-high 12 points.

After the Bucks took an 8-7 lead with 3:10 left in the first quarter, Oak Hill held them scoreless until 1:35 remained in the second quarter. During that span, the Raiders had amassed a 23-8 lead. 

Buckfield took a chunk out of the deficit with six points in the final 95 seconds of the first half, including back-to-back layups from Ayden Jefferson to make it 24-15 at the half. 

The Raiders amped up the energy in the third quarter as the 1-3-1 press was effective — Spearman stole the ball twice — and the bench was chanting the team along. 

The Bucks, though, hung with the Raiders in the period and went into the fourth trailing 33-23.

Oak Hill, though, pulled away in the fourth.

“We started to come back and we just fell apart again,” Bucks coach Ryley Flynn said. “Mentality seems to be a big part of this team, and we can’t stay mentally in games when we start going down. It’s something we’ve got to work on over time and hopefully we get a couple wins. I think the boys and me, we’ve got a good understanding of one another, but it is completely new. I am a different style than they’re used to and we are trying to fix the mentality and fix things they aren’t used to and it’s going to take time.”

For Oak Hill, the fourth quarter was about putting Buckfield away. Tiger Hopkins helped, scoring nine of his 13 points in the fourth. 

“It was a very nice performance by Tiger,” Smith said. “Tiger picked up the guys, he’s a team player, he fights, battles and makes a big difference when he comes in sometimes. It was one of those things where we stay with the hot hand and it’s worked out well for us so far.”

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