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Jackets top Oneida in second meeting

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By Taylor Crombie

The Coalfield Yellow Jackets executed when it mattered most against the Oneida Indians Saturday night.

After a lackluster first half, Coalfield came back in the second and held off the Indians for the 67-64 win.

The Jackets trailed Oneida 27-20 at halftime, but they came out of the locker room ready to go for the third quarter.

“We started in that zone and we were going to play a slower tempo,” Coalfield head coach Daniel Byrd said. “We decided at halftime that we needed to make some adjustments and speed the game up. We went to our man-to-man defense and that seemed to make a difference and play with a little more energy.”

Parker McKinney set the tone for the second half with a 3-point shot on the Jackets’ first possession. After a pair of free throws from Oneida’s Chancey Botts, Coalfield went on a 12-point run to take the lead behind threes from McKinney, Tyler Keathley and Lance Byrd. By the end of the period, the Jackets had pulled ahead 44-39.

“We’ve struggled in the third quarter a lot and I felt like they came out tonight and really played their game in the third quarter,” Byrd said.

The Indians were not out of the game, though, and fought hard to take the lead back all through the fourth quarter. Oneida got close to tying the game several times, but the Jackets kept coming up with points to maintain a small lead.

Things got interesting in the last minute of the game when Oneida’s Zach Kazee finally tied it up at 59-59. Peyton McKinney made a layup to briefly return the lead to Coalfield, then Kazee drained a three on the Indians’ next possession to give Oneida the lead for the first time since the start of the second half.

With less than 20 seconds on the clock, Parker McKinney made a layup, then Peyton McKinney got a steal and drew a foul on his layup attempt. Peyton McKinney made one of his free throws to put Coalfield up by two.

Parker McKinney drew a foul with five seconds left in the game and made both free throws to pad the Jackets’ lead, but Elijah West broke loose for a layup, then the Indians called a time out to stop the clock at three seconds. The Jackets maintained their composure, though, and held on to win 67-64.

“They had a good game plan on us late,” Byrd said. “They did a really good job with Parker (McKinney) and it was a struggle to get him the ball.

“He really stepped up tonight and we’ve been waiting for him to do that for a few games now.”

McKinney led the Jackets with 26 points. Tyler Keathley (13 points) and Peyton McKinney (10 points) also reached double digits.

With the win, the Jackets are tied for third in the district with Oneida.

“Every game is huge right now in this district,” Byrd said. “It’s a tough district. I think I said a few weeks ago that everybody was about to go to war and that is what has happened.”

Oneida (64) Branstetter 9, D West 7, Botts 7, Burchfield 2, Kazee 25, E West 3, Stephens 9, Yancy 2.

Coalfield (67) Keathley 13, Parker McKinney 26, Peyton McKinney 10, Byrd 6, Lowe 1, Kilby 6, Carroll 5.