ONEIDA | It was close for a while. But when the Indians cranked it into high gear, it was no contest.
Oneida used a big third quarter to provide more than enough separation for a comfortable 71-41 win over Oliver Springs in the District 3-A championship game at OHS Gymnasium Tuesday evening.
Mason Keeton scored 17 points, Gavin Keeton added 12, and Zeb Spradlin had his second double-double of the tournament, with 10 points and 12 rebounds, as the Indians ran away with the district championship that had eluded them for the past two seasons.
Last year, it was Oliver Springs that played spoiler’s role for Oneida at Wartburg, after Harriman snuck out of OHS Gymnasium with a win the year before that.
This time, the Bobcats looked like they might be poised to do the same thing. Oz never led, but trailed by just three points after the first quarter, 17-14.
The second period was a harbinger of things to come, however. Oliver Springs managed just seven points, and saw Oneida widen its lead to eight, 29-21, going into the intermission.
Then came a huge third quarter.
The Indians scored 28 points in the third period, going on a 28-9 run to turn the eight-point halftime lead into a 27-point blowout going into the fourth quarter.
The Indians shot 48% in the second half, up substantially from the first half, and hit five of nine 3-point tries in the second half. They wewre also nine of 11 from the free throw line.
Oliver Springs didn’t shoot poorly in the second half, but was only two of seven from 3-point range and got to the free throw line only twice, missing both tries.
Dawson Williford had 11 points to lead the Bobcats.
The last time the Indians won a district championship, in 2020, they qualified for the state tournament, though it didn’t get played due to covid.
Oneida will begin its quest for a return trip to Murfreesboro on Saturday, when Rockwood visits OHS Gymnasium. The Tigers are 15-11 on the season, but ran into trouble in the District 4-A tournament. They finished fourth in the tournament, after falling to Greenback 50-49 in overtime Tuesday.
Saturday’s game will tip off at 7pm on the IH Sports Network.
Oneida dominated the glass in its game against Oliver Springs, out-rebounding the Bobcats 35 to 20. Spradlin led the way with his 12 boards, while Gavin Keeton and Hayden Brawner had seven and six rebounds, respectively.
The Indians committed only seven turnovers in the game.
ONEIDA (71): M. Keeton 17, Ga. Keeton 12, Spradlin 10, Gr. Keeton 8, Brawner 8, Huling 6, Rector 6, Bell 3, Gilbert 1.
OLIVER SPRINGS (41): Williford 11, Barger 10, E. Jones 8, Gouge 6, Tuck 6.