CURRY — Oakman senior Skylar Hice came into the Walker County Basketball Tournament with his sights set on earning the MVP award.
He did just that. The 5-foot-10 guard had 23 points and nine rebounds on Saturday night, guiding the Wildcats to a 55-44 victory over Carbon Hill at Curry High School.
"I wanted to win (MVP). I said it Monday at practice,” Hice said. “We knew that we just had to come in and play like we play. This is the first county title for the school. We are making some history.”
Hice fueled a third-quarter Oakman run that finally gave the Wildcats some breathing room. With Oakman holding a slim 28-26 lead, Hice converted three straight steals into points. Another steal led to a layup, pushing the Wildcats’ lead to 39-26 with 52 seconds left in the quarter. Carbon Hill didn’t get closer than six points the rest of the way.
“I don’t know the last time Oakman won a county tournament,” second-year Oakman boys coach Derek Roberts said. “This is big for the school and the community. I’m proud of the guys and also the support that came out tonight.
“It wasn’t one of our best games. We came out a little sluggish. We were able to win in the end. I think we’ve got a little more work to do. We’ve got some good teams and tough games ahead.”
Carbon Hill got off to a hot start against Oakman, building an early 7-1 lead. Hice and AJ Odom added baskets to cut the Carbon Hill lead to 10-8 after the opening quarter.
Clay Cerezo and Alex Atkins made baskets early in the second quarter as the Bulldogs pushed their lead back to seven points at 15-8.
Oakman’s Christian Hubbard scored five straight points and connected on a 3-pointer at the 1:30 mark to put the Wildcats ahead 20-19. Oakman led 22-21 at the half.
The Wildcats outscored Carbon Hill 19-7 in the third quarter to take control. Oakman led 41-28 going into the final quarter.
Carbon Hill put together one final run in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to six points at 44-38 after a Matthew Wallace steal and score. The Wildcats responded with a 9-2 run to put the game away.
Along with his 23 points and nine steals, Hice had four rebounds and a block for Oakman (17-5). Hubbard finished with 13 points and five rebounds, Bubba Odom had eight points and five rebounds, Brody Harbison had five points and four steals, AJ Odom added four points and five rebounds and Ketch Jones had two points.
For Carbon Hill (12-14), Ishmael Jones had 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals, Cerezo had 13 points and two steals, Atkins and Matthew Wallace each had six points and Haden Pare added three.
AJ Odom and Hubbard joined Hice on the All-County Tournament Team for Oakman, with Wallace and Jones named as the Carbon Hill representatives. Curry’s Blake Darty and Dora’s Kavin Towns were also named to the All-County Team.