OHS falls to rival

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D. Mark Mitchell

On the Mark
By D. Mark Mitchell

Rival Auburn High School swept the Opelika High School girls’ and boys’ basketball teams in Auburn last week. The girls’ game was close from start to end. Opelika led 23-21 at halftime and 38-35 after three quarters but was outscored by six points in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 58-55 loss.

Two Lady Tiger players, Olivia Porter (27 points) and Syriah Daniels (18 points), combined to score 45 points. Opelika was led by Kaitlyn Bryant with 19 points, Haley Sanders with 16 and LaDajah Hugley with 10.

The game was not decided until the final seconds. Auburn high, leading 55-54, missed a free throw with 15 seconds left in the game. Opelika missed a shot and fouled an AHS player on the rebound, which resulted in two free throws. The Lady Tigers hit two free throws, and OHS missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer, giving Auburn a 58-55 win.

The AHS boys (10-2) beat Opelika (0-5) 74-55 in the second game of the night in Auburn last week. This was the first game after first-year head coach Emmanuel Brown resigned after a 0-4 start. Brown was hired last summer to replace John Wadsworth, who left to coach basketball at Enterprise High School. Wesley Button was named interim head coach after spending six seasons as Wadsworth’s top assistant coach.

 The Tigers’ Jae Baker scored 17 points in the first half to help Auburn lead by 11 at intermission. AHS extended the lead to 57-45 heading to the final quarter. Auburn expanded the lead in the fourth quarter, winning 74-55.

Baker was followed by Carter Davis’s 11 points and Chandler Alexander’s 9 points for the Tigers. The Dogs Brandon Howard scored 10 points while Grady Bynum and Ja’Keith Carr added 9 points apiece.

The OHS varsity boys beat Russell County, 74-68, last Friday in Seale for their first win of the season. This  was their first win in the season and in the area.

Coach Wesley Button was pleased with the win.

“I was really proud of the effort by our guys. We pressed full court the entire game. We played extremely hard and more importantly … we played as a team,” said Button.

The Dogs hit 12 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter to help secure the win. Tay Hardnett’s 17 points led Opelika, followed by Jayvontay Conner’s 12, Ja Carr’s 11 and Grady Bynum’s 10.

The girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams played area foe Eufaula Tuesday night on the road. The results were not available at press time. The two teams play at Valley Thursday in another area game and host LaFayette Friday in the Mainstreet gym at OHS.

The resignation of first year head coach Emannuel Brown last week put OHS in a tough position. Opelika Athletics Director Mike Pugh hired Brown, who was the football team’s strength and conditioning and running back coach and assistant basketball coach at Rehobeth. Brown hired his brother and two close friends after taking the Opelika job. Brown’s brother left OHS in the fall to take another job.

Perhaps the most intriguing fact is that Coach Brown’s family did not move to Opelika and continued living in South Alabama. It will be interesting to see if Opelika hires interim coach Wesley Button as permanent head coach or if they will conduct another search after the season.

The student athletes playing basketball deserve to have a coach committed to making the OHS boys’ basketball program the best in Alabama. It appears Wesley Button is the person for the job. Time will tell…. Stay tuned!

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