By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Any night you can hold Chase Connor to 17 points is a good night. But stopping Connor and Jacob Buckland — that’s hard to do.
The surging Shady Spring Tigers were victorious on Wednesday night when they defeated Oak Hill 72-67.
“Chase didn’t have a good night,” Shady Spring coach Steve Clark said.
For a lot of players, a 17-point night isn’t what they would consider a bad night, but when you’re a returning player of the year nominee and averaging 27 points per game, the standards are a little different.
“I tell the kids that,” Clark said of Connor. “He’ll have an 18- or 20-point night and it’s not considered a good night. We have high expectations for him.”
The difference between a good player and a great player is in how they adjust in the face of trouble.
“I wasn’t shooting the ball well tonight,” Connor said. “I wanted to get everyone else involved and make my passes, controlling the tempo and doing my job as a point guard.”
Doing his job he was.
Enter Jacob Buckland, a 6-foot-3 senior, who led the Tigers with 22 points.
“Chase was seeing the floor well,” Buckland said. “We knew we had to get buckets under the basket.”
That was Buckland’s specialty of the night.
The senior forward had 11 field goals under the basket, many of which came on transitional passes from Connor.
“Jake had a really good night. He ran the floor well,” Clark said. “He’s capable of doing that any night.”
It was the fifth win in a row for the Class AAA Tigers, following four straight losses to open the season. The Tigers are now above .500 on the season. Instead of carrying a burden of loss on their shoulders, they’re carrying something else -— momentum.
“Any momentum is great for us, especially at this point and getting into a tough part of our schedule,” Buckland said. “Five consecutive wins is great, especially with how we started. I think the AAA schools we played at the beginning of the season made us better and quicker. ”
“It means a lot,” Connor said. “We’ve got a lot more confidence, we’re all playing well. Everything’s starting to come together.”
Clark on the other hand, isn’t ready to put the cart before the horse.
“It was an ugly win tonight. We’re just going to play them as they come and hopefully get some wins.”
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Oak Hill came into Wednesday’s game on a four game losing streak, but playing some close games, including a 55-53 against Class AA Bluefield on Jan. 4.
“We’ve lost some games by 2 points, 3 points, 2 points,” Oak Hill coach Walter Raines said. “I feel a little snake bit — like we’re not getting the breaks. When you start doing things like that, you start hoping you’ll get paid back later.”
The Red Devils did have a bright spot in Wednesday’s loss to the Tigers.
His name was Jalen Jones.
The 2012 Register-Herald Offensive Player of the Year in football, missed the first few games of the season for Oak Hill but has worked his way into the lineup.
He had 32 points against Shady.
“It’s been an adjustment learning to play with Jalen,” Raines said. “We’ve played better as a team with him in the lineup.”
Jones was responsible for helping to keep Chase Connor in check for the night.
“We’ve played against each other in the past,” Connor said of Jones. “It’s always a lot of fun going head-to-head with another great player like Jalen and see who comes out on top.”
On Wednesday, it was the Tigers.
The Red Devils will get their shot at redemption when the two teams meet up again on Jan. 17 in Oak Hill. But first, OHHS will host Riverside on Monday.
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Oak Hill (2-6)
Jalen Jones 11 8-12 32, Kadrin Goodman 4 1-4 9, Deon Marion 3 2-4 10, Joey Re 4 2-3 10, Ervin Fruit 1 1-2 3, Christopher Hysell 1 0-0 3. Totals: 24 14-25 67.
Shady Spring (5-4)
Chase Connor 4 8-11 17, Steven Chhabra 1 0-0 2, Jordan Meadows 3 0-1 7, Tyler Bonds 4 1-2 9, Nathan Williams 1 0-0 2, Jacob Buckland 11 0-0 22, Juwan Rowe 1 3-6 5, Corey Snyder 3 0-0 8 Totals: 28 12-20 72.
OH 13 16 14 23 — 72
SS 15 17 17 24 — 67
3-point goals — OH: 5 (Jones 2, Marion 2, Hysell); SS: 4 (Connor, Meadows, Snyder 2). Fouled out — SS: Rowe.—