Oliver knocks off Peabody
Oliver anticipated that Peabody would use a zone defense to slow down its high-scoring attack, but the Bears were hoping to surprise the Highlanders by unveiling one of their own for the first time this season.
It was a shot in the dark, but it worked.
Oliver survived in a half-court offensive set, but Peabody shot itself out of the game, as the Bears beat the four-time defending City League champions, 52-48, Friday night at Peabody.
“Any time, on the road, when you beat a sound team, it's a big win,” Oliver coach Carey White said. “I didn't want to show (the zone) until the playoffs, but we used it and it worked.
“That's another thing teams have to prepare for against us.”
White was the first to admit it wasn't a pretty win, especially for a team that was averaging 70.1 points per game and had scored 80 or more six times this season. The 52 points were the second-lowest total of the season for Oliver (15-3, 11-2), which scored 50 in a season-opening loss at Bethel Park.
“When a team is going to sit back in a zone against us, I preach to be patient,” Oliver coach Carey White said. “That's why the score's that way. I'd rather be scoring in the 70s and 80s. We're a better team that way.”
Oliver avenged a 59-58 loss to Peabody (11-7, 8-5) on Dec. 13, thanks in part to the Highlanders' poor shooting. Peabody made 18 of 53 field goals, but was only 3 of 22 from 3-point range and 9 of 19 on free throws.
“We've got to play good defense – and we did – but turnover after turnover and our 3-point shooting killed us,” Peabody coach Jim Kahn said. “If you can't put the ball in the hoop, you can't win. If they won by four, they won by 10 or 12 at the foul line.”
David Robinson scored a game-high 16 points and Gilmore Cummings added 15 to lead Oliver, which also got seven points and eight rebounds off the bench from 6-foot-2 sophomore Maurice Page. Peabody was led by Justin Mullen's 15 and Gavin Turner's 14.
The game was tied at 44-44 before Cummings followed a runner with a twisting shot off the glass with 1:13 left for a four-point lead. Page added two free throws to extend it to 50-45 with 40.7 seconds left.
Peabody was 4 of 21 from the field and 8 of 18 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“Their shooters were off,” Cummings said. “That zone was the key to our success.”