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Chargers ace Wildcats in season-opener to remain unbeaten at home

Davis McCool

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The Oxford High Chargers boys hoops team remained undefeated in their home gym on Tuesday night, which featured a refreshing season opener against one of the best teams in the state, per boys head coach Drew Tyler.

The Charger boys team, led by a powerful perimeter attack, managed to score 72 on a quality defense, in Calhoun City High, and escaped with a 72-67 win against the Class 2A powerhouse.

“It validates what we’ve been doing in the preseason,” Tyler said. “It lets me know that these young kids are more seasoned than I thought. We have some tough opponents ahead, but we’re much further along than I gave them credit for.”

The Chargers were spearheaded by Jarkel Joiner, the state’s premier junior guard, and first-time starters, junior Terry Williams and senior Christopher Sandroni.

Joiner drew the most significant defensive attention, garnering at least two defenders every trip to the basket, while still managing 22 points. With Joiner’s attention came openings for other players to shine, namely Sandroni, who scored 20 points for the first time in his career.

“I didn’t take anything for granted,” Sandroni said. “Jarkel had a lot of confidence in me with the ball with him being double-teamed, and I just took what I was given.”

The majority of Sandroni’s points came from beyond the arc, where he exploded in the third quarter. And Terry, the transfer from South Panola, took some pressure away from Joiner as a ball-handler, and continuously played the part of a vintage guard.

“They couldn’t key in on one player,” Tyler said. “Christopher was stepping up and knocking them down. I think they came into the game thinking, ‘Joiner, Joiner, Joiner,’ and Terry and Christopher let them know that that wasn’t the case.”

Down low, Oxford is significantly lacking in height and power, but seniors Cole Cromwell and Ke’Michael Coleman stepped up and made the big plays when they counted.

Coleman eventually fouled out, and Cromwell was left to fend on his own. The recently-upgraded starter was nothing but perfect from then on.

The lead never once dipped in favor of the Wildcats, although they did pull within two in the last minute of the game. The Chargers’ guards managed to put the game on their shoulders and walk out with a season-opening win.

“I was thinking, ‘What do we have to do to win this game and hold the lead?’” Tyler said. “We really were trying to spread the floor, and we wanted to get it to Jarkel and Terry, who could handle the ball. Our team knows our strengths, and we know where the ball needs to go in those times.”

The Chargers’ roster, which Tyler once described as “young and inexperienced,” handled, and corralled, a tough opponent to keep the winning streak at home alive.

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Chargers ace Wildcats in season-opener to remain unbeaten at home