Fifth-Ranked Tatum Grinds Out 45-31 Win Over Rival + Two-Time Defending State Champion White Oak
TATUM -- Tatum and White Oak met three times last season -- twice during district and once in the playoffs. Tatum dropped all three, but was ready to leave the past behind in Tuesday night's meeting.
Chaston Brooks scored 18 points and fifth-ranked Tatum's defense kept a normally hot-shooting White Oak offense in check, grinding out a 45-31 win over the No. 18 Roughnecks in District 17-2A action at Eagle Coliseum.
"There's nobody I enjoy beating more than (White Oak) and I'm from there," said Tatum coach Brett Carr after the win. "They're a well-respected program in our area, and I think our kids had motivation."
White Oak, the two-time defending state champion, swept last year's regular-season series with Tatum and followed that up with a dominating victory in the regional championship game.
It was a different story this time around as Tatum's suffocating man-to-man defense held down a White Oak (5-4, 1-2) offense notorious for finding easy looks either from beyond the 3-point line or underneath the basket.
"We told them we wanted it to be a grind, and our kids turned it into a grind," Carr said. "White Oak is so well disciplined, their kids are so fundamentally sound. Our bread and butter for 12 years here has been man-to-man. I thought we did a great job of D'ing up. I thought in the first half we didn't let them have any easy shots, and we gave them some easy shots in the second half, but that may have been due to fatigue."
Junior guard Chaston Brooks led Tatum (18-4, 4-0) with 18 points -- 13 of which came in the opening half as the Eagles went into halftime with a 27-15 lead. Brooks added four rebounds, an assist and a steal on the night.
"No matter where Chaston plays, other people in the district will have a difficult time guarding him," Carr said. "He can play everywhere. He's played every position for us and he can guard every position. He's got a lot to learn, but I thought he did a fantastic job. We were going to him and he delivered."
Jahee Johnson added eight points and five rebounds, while Donovan Centers collected eight points and four boards. Senior guard Robbie Rockwell, one of the top long-range shooters in the area, was held scoreless until the fourth quarter but hit two 3-pointers to finish with six points.
Tatum held a slim 34-29 rebounding edge and matched White Oak with seven steals, but the Roughnecks had difficultly with their shooting touch all night long.
Slade Sutton led White Oak with 12 points to go with five rebounds. Hayden Nichols added seven points and seven boards, but spent much of the game in foul trouble. He picked up two quick fouls in the first half and fouled out with 4:33 remaining in the fourth. Josh Benson had six points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in the losing effort.
Tatum began the second half on a 9-2 run to open up a 36-17 lead, but a Gabe Michael basket brought White Oak to within 11 points with 7:20 remaining in the fourth at 37-26.
Rockwell's first made basket of the night -- a 3 pointer of an assist from Brooks -- preceded a Johnson layup that pushed the lead back to 42-26 lead with 6:07 to play. Each team then went scoreless for more than five minutes before Sutton's 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining.
Sutton's first 3-point shot of the night gave White Oak an early 5-2 lead, but Tatum went to work by going on a 16-3 run to build an 18-8 lead with 5:11 to play before halftime.
Baskets by Nichols and Michael cut the lead to six, but the Eagles closed the half on a 9-3 run. White Oak never got closer than 10 points in the second half.
"We knew this was a huge game and it's always a tough game with them," Carr said. "Our kids came in and competed against them, and I think we revealed some of their shortcomings and I guess we showed them some of our strengths."
White Oak hosts Jefferson, while Tatum plays at Elysian Fields on Friday.
No. 5 Tatum 45, No. 18 White Oak 31
District 17-2A Boys Basketball
At Eagle Coliseum, Tatum
White Oak 5 10 9 7 -- 31
Tatum 10 17 10 8 -- 45
WHITE OAK (5-4, 1-2) -- Slade Sutton, 12; Hayden Nichols, 7; Josh Benson, 6; Gabe Michael, 6.
TATUM (18-4, 4-0) -- Chaston Brooks, 18; Donovan Centers, 8; Jahee Johnson, 8; Robbie Rockwell, 6; JaKoby Lee, 2; Klifton Willis, 2; Kyshaun Smith, 1.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- White Oak: Benson (2), Sutton (2). Tatum: Rockwell (2), Brooks.