Oxford girls bounced from playoffs by Desoto Central

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Oxford girls basketball team saw their season come to an end Monday with a loss to Desoto Central in the first round of the state playoffs.

The Chargers had their hands full against a loaded Jaguars roster that featured taller, stronger and faster players at every position. Despite their size disadvantage, head coach Cliff Ormon’s squad led for long stretches of the game, turning it into a slow-paced, defensive slugfest.

“I just thought the kids executed the game plan about as well as we could tonight, we just let it slip away from us there in the fourth quarter,” said head coach Cliff Ormon. “I love the effort from this team, the heart in that locker room is tremendous. Going through a season, winning nine games and still competing like that, wanting to keep going in the playoffs, as a coach you just appreciate it.”

Oxford played stifling defense all night, holding Desoto Central star Janiya Jones to just two points and forcing her teammates to make plays.

“I’ve coached against her for four years and she’s kind of been a nemesis for us so I decided we weren’t gonna go and let her try to take them to that next round, we were gonna make somebody else beat us,” Ormon said. “It worked, it gave us a chance tonight. We had a few shots that could’ve went our way and it just didn’t roll.”

The Chargers had trouble getting anything going offensively, relying on some hot outside shooting from Mathis and Olivia Waddell. Mathis scored nine of Oxford’s 11 first-quarter points, while Waddell contributed six of their eight points in the second quarter.

They struggled to get good looks at the rim against a stout Desoto Central defense however, and failed to convert the shots they did manage to create.

“We just couldn’t quite finish at the rim. We had a few layups that rolled out for us… but Kaylin Mathis and Olivia [Waddell] both finished shooting the ball really well at the end of this season,” Ormon said.

Ormon said the Jaguars’ defense made it tough for his team throughout the night, jumping the passing lanes and forcing them into difficult, contested looks on the perimeter.

“Desoto Central definitely made it tough with their man-to-man defense. They play in the gaps and make you drive by, and step up and take shots,” he said.

Oxford hung in the game through three-and-a-half quarters, but could not overcome Desoto Central’s size in the end. The Chargers surrendered 18 offensive rebounds, six of which came in the final minutes of the game. Ormon’s squad was outscored 16-6 in the fourth quarter, eventually falling 48-38.

“When you play a zone, a lot of times it opens up some opportunities for them to slip in on the backside and get some rebounds. We tried to battle that all year. We’re an undersized team and I think we competed about as well as you can, but that was our nemesis tonight and it came back and got us.”

Mathis led the way for the Chargers, posting 14 points on 5-11 shooting. The junior guard sunk five of her nine attempts from beyond the arc, catching fire in the first half before the Jaguars limited her offensive opportunities down the stretch.

Junior Labriyah Parker was the only other Oxford player in double figures, recording 12 points and a team-high five rebounds in the losing effort.

The Chargers (9-17, 1-7 Region 1) finish their season in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Ormon said the loss was heartbreaking, but pointed out that their strong finish this season provided valuable experience for a young roster.

“I hate we ran out of games because we’re kind of playing our best basketball right now, but it’s something to look forward to going into next season.”