By Joshua Huff, sports editor
JACKSONVILLE — When you need to get rid of a few pesky ghosts, who do you call?
When you need to corral a horde of marauding dinosaurs running free on an island, who do you call?
Well, paleontologist Alan Grant seems like an appropriate choice.
When you need a player to rise to the occasion in the most important game of the season, who do you call?
Pinson Valley senior Kam Woods, of course.
With their magical run through this season on the brink of ending in the regional round of the 2020 Class 6A state tournament, the Indians unleashed one of the most potent shooters in the country in a stunning display of grit and resiliency.
Down 10 points to a confident Oxford team with three minutes to go in the third quarter on Friday, Pinson Valley turned to always-with-an-answer Woods, who popped off for 32 consecutive points, which began nearly midway through the penultimate quarter, to propel the Indians past Oxford, 70-67, in overtime before a packed crowd in Pete Mathews Coliseum on the campus of Jacksonville State University.
“I want to commend my guys for fighting to the end and never giving up,” Pinson Valley head coach Darrell Barber said. “We’ve done that all season long. Extremely proud of my guys for the effort and guts down the stretch.”
How Pinson Valley ultimately prevailed against an Oxford team that was able to muster a response all afternoon is a story that has written itself throughout this season. On multiple occasions the Indians have shunned logic — most notably against Lee Montgomery — and dug themselves out of holes that most others would just lie down in and call it a day.
That hole would be dug early against Oxford as the Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 5-0 lead that somehow morphed into an 11-all tie to end the first quarter thanks to a Woods buzzer beater.
Oxford unleashed yet another run to begin the second quarter, which gave it a 17-11 lead that was only halted when Ga’Quincy McKinstry hit a running layup to break the Indians’ drought. The Yellow Jacket’s Justin Moore promptly followed with a 3-pointer, which begun a second consecutive 6-0 Oxford run.
Pinson Valley 70 | Oxford 67
No. 1 PV rallies to defeat Oxford in OT of the Sweet 16. Indians advance to face Huffman. @GaQMcK1 with the deciding bucket to finally put away Oxford. Hell of a game. @TribSportsLive @PinsonHoops @coachbarber pic.twitter.com/bchY99pqjT
— Joshua Huff (@JH_NewEra) February 14, 2020
The Yellow Jackets would extend their second quarter lead to 10 points, 23-13, before Pinson Valley ended the half on a 10-4 run to narrow its deficit to 27-23.
The third quarter began with much promise as Woods brought the Indians to within two points on a layup, 27-25, but the storm clouds quickly returned as Oxford went on an 11-3 run over a three-minute span to take a 38-28 lead.
Then Woods happened.
The senior opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to pull Pinson Valley to within four points, 45-41. Woods added another 3-pointer to his collection seconds later that cut the deficit to one point, 45-44. He then drilled another 3-pointer moments late that gave Pinson Valley its first lead since the first quarter.
“I knew I had to score for us to be in it,” Woods said of his second-half scoring frenzy.
Wood’s torrid scoring run spanned just a few minutes and was part of a run where in which the reigning Class 6A player of the year scored 32 straight points.
However, Oxford managed to weather the storm and entered the final seconds of regulation with a 58-all tie. Woods had an opportunity to hit the game winner as time expired but his shot fell short.
In overtime, the two teams battled back and forth. Oxford opened with the lead on a Roc Taylor jumper, but Pinson Valley’s JoJo James tied it on a jumper of his own. Then with 39 seconds left in the game, and the Indians up by just one point, McKinstry received a brilliant pass in the paint and hit the layup to give Pinson Valley the three-point lead, which Oxford was unable to gain ground upon before time expired.
With the win, Pinson Valley books its ticket into the Elite Eight with a rematch against Huffman. The two teams have faced each other twice this season with Huffman winning both. The game will be on Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. within Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Woods recorded 41 points in the game. This follows a first half in which he scored just five points. McKinstry recorded 10 points and eight rebounds, while James added eight points with seven rebounds.