WELLINGTON — The young and sometimes inconsistent Oberlin Phoenix made a statement in its final Patriot Athletic Conference crossover game Friday.
Oberlin went into Wellington and imposed its will during a 60-49 victory. The Phoenix used a huge run to take the lead then fought off a few Wellington pushes in the second half.
“I thought we were really tuned in tonight and we executed well,” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “We had a lot of guys come in and do a nice job for us.”
Wellington (10-10, 7-7 PAC) seemed poised to regain the lead after a 6-0 run cut its deficit to 34-32 in the third quarter.
But the Phoenix (6-12, 6-8) answered with an 8-0 run and never allowed the Dukes to get closer than five points the rest of the game.
Freshman Andre Yarber had two jumpers to lead Oberlin’s charge and was the go-to guy when the Phoenix needed an offensive spark. He finished with a career-high 23 points, including nine in the third quarter.
“I have worked really hard on my game and it felt great to play so well tonight,” Yarber said. “It was a big win for us and we had to earn it.”
Junior Azarie Hairston helped carry the burden down the stretch, hitting back-to-back jumpers to help Oberlin get out to a 48-41 lead in the fourth quarter.
Hairston also came up big during a string of Oberlin defensive stops to help the Phoenix slowly build its lead.
“I tried not to force anything and just let the game come to me,” Hairston said. “No matter what, I have to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
Despite Yarber’s big numbers, it was a team effort for the Phoenix, with different players coming up big in crucial moments throughout the game.
Four Phoenix players hit 3-pointers in the second quarter and three knocked down free throws in the final minutes of the game.
Oberlin’s defense twice held Wellington without a field goal for at least three minutes.
“We’ve been playing well lately but we were finally able to finish the game this time,” Russell said.
Yarber played like a veteran, hitting crowd-hushing jumpers all second half. He scored six straight points late in the third to help the Phoenix take a 44-38 lead going into the fourth quarter. He scored twice on aggressive drives to the glass and once on a pull-up jumper in traffic.
“I was aggressive and attacking a lot, which got me going,” Yarber said. “My teammates also helped me by putting me in good situations.”
The teams traded baskets during a first quarter that ended in a 12-all tie. Wellington took a 16-12 lead early in the second quarter, but Oberlin responded with a 15-1 run that gave it control of the game.
Oberlin led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter before Wellington whittled it down to a 30-25 halftime deficit.
The Dukes were never able to complete a rally. Ryan Whitaker led Wellington with 18 points.
“We have to understand that there is a process it takes to win,” Wellington coach Dan Gundert said. “You can’t just roll out of bed and expect to win basketball games.”
Paul Williams at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Oberlin 60, Wellington 49
OBERLIN (60): Greg Richardson 1-0-2, Andre Yarber 7-7-23, Azare Hairston 4-2-10, Giles Harrell 1-5-8, Ty Locklear 0-0-0-, Mikah Jones-Smith 3-0-7, Dayvion Witherspoon , Aaron Hopkins 3-0-6, David Hopkins 2-0-4. Totals 21-14-60.
WELLINGTON (49): Cole Standen 1-0-2, Ryan Whitaker 6-6-18, Noah Diermyer 4-0-10, Ben Bliss 3-0-6, Mason McClellan 3-1-7, Wyatt Sasack 0-0-0, Brandon Orozco 3-0-6, Troy Cole 0-0-0. Totals 20-7-49.
Oberlin 12 18 14 16 — 60
Wellington 12 13 13 11 — 49
Three-point goals: Oberlin 4-16 (Yarber 2, Harrell, Jones-Smith), Wellington 2-17 (Diermyer 2). Free throws: Oberlin 14-26 (53 percent), Wellington 7-17 (41 percent). Total fouls: Oberlin 13, Wellington 17. Turnovers: Oberlin 9, Wellington 14.
Junior varsity: Oberlin, 46-44.