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Pontotoc rallies to hand Oxford their first loss

OXFORD — Even when Oxford is leading by a comfortable margin there is still a feeling on the sidelines that they are surviving more than in control. It was not more evident than in Tuesday’s game against Pontotoc where the Warriors rallied from 18 points down to win 71-69 in the final game of the Charger Challenge. Pontotoc handed the Chargers their first loss of the season.

All the potential issues and concerns head coach Drew Tyler saw with his team during the summer and preseason showed up in the latter stages of the game.

“I thought we were hitting on all cylinders right there in the first quarter,” Tyler said. “What I’ve been looking for is passing our way to a win and we passed our way to a lead in the first quarter. We got into a little foul trouble and Pontotoc did not lay down. Even though we kept an 8 to 11 point lead the entire game I felt like we were constantly holding them off.”

With eight seconds remaining Kourtland Armstrong drained a free throw to give Pontotoc (5-1) the lead. It took the entirety of the game, but the Warriors erased the 21-3 deficit they faced at the start of the first quarter.

The offense slowed down for Oxford (5-1) after the first eight minutes. After a 21-point opening quarter Pontotoc 66-48 outscored the Chargers. A lot of those Warrior points were off of transition plays following one of the many missed free throws from Oxford. Pontotoc would rebound the ball then make two quick passes to the far baseline and putting up a shot before Oxford was even set on defense.

“One of our identities this year that is definitely a drawback, we give up points in bunches,” Tyler said. “We give up 5, 6, 8 points. We’re known for that, so I thought we made some really big plays to give ourselves a chance to keep the lead at the end and almost regain it right there at the very end. Just shot ourselves in the foot with a lot of no-brainers and just out of position on defense and really gave too many open lanes to the goal.”

Kylan Blackmon led the Chargers with 16 points and Tykel Owens added 14 as the only two scorers in double figures for Oxford. Derrius Southern chipped in 9 points.

Lady Chargers win again

When Oxford won their first game of the season last Thursday against Senatobia, Cliff Ormon hoped it would jumpstart his team into some positive momentum. It has been a struggle at times but the Lady Chargers have found their first winning streak in three years after their 40-32 victory over Center Hill on Tuesday.

It capped a two-game sweep for Oxford (3-3) in the Charger Challenge after defeating Lake Cormorant 52-36 on Monday.

“We’re having to be a grinders team,” Ormon said. “We’re grinding out wins. They’re not pretty, but learning how to win is a hard thing sometimes for players to understand when all the little plays add up. We’ve made it tough on ourself but I love this team. They don’t quit and again we’re finding different ways to win.”

The Lady Chargers led wire-to-wire against the Mustangs (1-6). Saniah Campbell led the team with 13 points and Ashley Epps added 11.

After some time off for the Thanksgiving break Oxford will travel to Ashland on Tuesday.