BRUCEVILLE-EDDY — Before the game, Lometa coach Aaron Nuckles knew the challenge his Hornets basketball team faced — trying to contain No. 10 Oakwood junior post Damiyne Durham.
The Hornets didn’t stop, stall or slow down Durham, who averages 35 points a game for a team that scores almost 80, during the 1A-Div. II Region IV area game at Bruceville-Eddy High School.
The post scored 35 points in the 89-56 Panthers win.
“Athleticism and size — they have it,” Nuckles said. “We came out slow and timid, rushed a lot of shots because we were worried about getting blocked.”
The size difference played a huge role for Oakwood. The Panthers routinely got second- and third-chance shots, outrebounding the much smaller Hornets (18-11).
Oakwood (19-7) had four players in double-digit scoring, with Shaquille Caldwell adding a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds — five offensive.
“We played a really good game tonight,” Panthers coach Ronnie Dunn said. “We were able to push our tempo and get an early lead. Lometa is a class act at all times, and it showed tonight because they never quit.”
Oakwood came out firing as Durham scored 18 points in the first quarter alone, while the Hornets managed to combine for 10. After the quarter the Panthers had a 27-10 lead that only grew larger in its disparity.
In the third quarter, the Panthers put up 30 to Lometa’s 15 and Oakwood cruised to the next round of the playoffs. Caldwell epitomized the relaxed demeanor that the Panthers displayed during the game.
On his team’s first second-half possession, Caldwell posted up a much shorter defender and smiled wide and bright as he called for the ball. He still smiled as he turned and converted the basket easily to build a 47-24 lead.
Eric Nichols led all Hornets with 16 points while he went 4-of-6 from behind the arc, and Jose Acevedo added 13 and eight rebounds in the loss.
Nuckles and his team were disappointed not to reach the 20-win plateau, but he saw the positives.
“We played better as a team this year than we did last year,” he said. “I honestly believe we will be better next year because we have some talent coming back and a new crop of players coming up.”