DALLAS – Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal match between South Oak Cliff (29-7) and Dallas Lincoln (18-12) resembled two prizefighters trading haymakers back and forth continuously through the quarters.
However, it was South Oak Cliff’s experience in tight games throughout the regular season that coach James Mayes III said helped the Golden Bears take Tuesday’s game, 71-66.
“Those games taught us how to handle and be patient,” Mays said. “It’s a tight game, be patient, play close and at the right moment, we’ll make a run. We’re looking for opportunities to get stops and get a run going and if we get up four to six points, it’s in our control. They were patient because of the games earlier in our schedule.”
Like a racecar driver making a move on the final lap, SOC’s game-changing stretch came at the beginning of the fourth quarter, mounting an 8-0 run after a third quarter that remained deadlocked for the majority of the frame.
The run was created by a change in SOC’s defense, going from straight man-to-man to a matchup zone that Mays believes caught Lincoln off guard. SOC was able to turn missed shots into transition buckets to start the fourth.
The Golden Bears then turned to the slow pace of a half-court offense to finish out the game, relying on its slight height advantage to continue putting up points down low.
“We play up-tempo and we want to play up-tempo, but you can’t play up-tempo all the time on some teams,” Mays said. “This was a team that you didn’t want to play up-tempo because they have too many ball handlers and playmakers and we didn’t want them to get in open-court situations and making plays.”
The strategy paid off, with SOC’s forward tandem of brothers Bryan and Bradley Umoru leading their team in scoring with 18 and 15, respectively.
SOC continues its campaign towards Austin at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Garland’s Special Events Center against West Mesquite, which took out Lancaster by one point.
“We’ve got our work cut out,” Mays said. “We’ve got to get in here and devise a plan to try and stay up with them.”