By Kieran McCauley
After a back-and-forth first quarter, No. 17 seed Academy Park’s offense exploded, helping them blow past No. 16 Oxford, 79-57, in the first round of the District 1 Class AAAA boys basketball playoffs Friday.
The Knights (17-6) will move on and play top-seeded Conestoga in the second round Tuesday. It is also their first district playoff victory since 2000.
The Hornets (15-9) were able to use some hot shooting in the first quarter to pull out to an early 16-13 lead. Tyler Farr drained two 3-pointers and the home team started to control the pace of the game.
“We tried to simulate in practice five on eight, five on nine to prepare for their athleticism,’ Oxford coach Sean Harvey said. “We knew what they were coming into it. Our goal was to control tempo.’
In the second quarter, Academy Park showed that simulations could only take a team so far when it came to preparing for their high-pressure pace. With Oxford leading 19-13 in the early going of the second quarter, the Knights 1-2-2 full-court press started to suffocate the Hornets offense, and turnovers and second-chance opportunities flipped the momentum quickly.
“We thought we could jump on them in a zone press because we weren’t scoring enough,’ Knights’ coach Allen Brydges said. “We were able to take control of the tempo and it was over after.’
Knights’ forward Travis Smith finished the first half off with an exclamation point. With time expiring, the senior drove down the lane and finished a left-handed layup at the buzzer. It capped off a 28-17 run for the visitors and gave them a 41-33 advantage at halftime. They would never trail in the second half.