January 12, 2013 11:11:11 PM
Scott Walters - firstname.lastname@example.org
New Hope High School senior Chris Mosley stands 6-foot-3 and weighs about 170 pounds.
Mosley has a thin upper body but a deadly jump shot. On Friday night, he also proved his massive wingspan is broad enough to carry his team.
Mosley scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to help the New Hope High boys basketball team rally from a 15-point deficit and beat Oxford 77-67 in a Class 5A, Region 2 matchup.
"Chris really carried us in the second half," New Hope coach Drew McBrayer said. "He gave us a big spark on both ends of the floor. He was knocking away balls on the defensive end. On the offensive end, he was taking smart shots and making them. The whole team really came up big in the second half, and he led the way."
New Hope improved to 10-8 and 2-0 in region play. After some early season difficulties against a challenging schedule, the Trojans are beginning to find their way.
"We are playing well together as a team," Mosley said. "I am one of the seniors, so my job is to lead. When we guard on the defensive end, we have a chance. Sometimes we lose our focus on that end. That is where we have to get better. We always feel like we can put some points. However, defense is where you are going to win the games."
New Hope forgot the importance of defense in the first quarter, when Oxford (7-9, 0-1) hit five 3-pointers. The Chargers were 12 of 14 from the field in the quarter and led 29-15 after eight minutes.
New Hope junior Whyatt Foster said McBrayer encouraged the team to find its way on defense.
"He did a lot of yelling at us (at the end of the quarter)," Foster said. "The thing about this team is we know when we aren't doing right. It's all about defense and we weren't making the stops. We weren't getting back like we should."
New Hope went into shootout mode in the second quarter, scoring the first eight points. Demyis Mayberry had two 3-pointers and Jaylon Bardley added seven points, including a pair of steals, to help New Hope cut the deficit to 45-42 at halftime.
"At halftime, we talked all about defense," McBrayer said. "When you get caught up in a game like that, where everybody is scoring, you think offense and you think you have to keep scoring. I told the kids at halftime you will win this game on the defensive end."
If any Trojan received that message, it was Mosley.
New Hope penetrated to the goal more and tightened up on defense in the final half. An old-fashioned 3-point play by Derrick Sherrod set the tone and cut Oxford's lead to 49-47.
Mosley followed with a steal and a fast-break 3-pointer for a 52-50 lead. Oxford grabbed its last lead, 55-54, on a Michael Bianco 3-pointer. New Hope answered with a 6-1 run to end the quarter with a 60-56 lead.
"The transition game was good," Mosley said. "When we picked it up on defense, we were able to get some easy baskets. Our defense was really great in the second half. Once we got a couple of stops, it got everybody excited."
Mosley helped seize control for good by scoring the first five points in the fourth quarter. Foster and Mosley ran the fast-break offense to perfection after a steal. Mosley converted the and-one attempt to give his squad a 65-56 lead.
A similar 3-point play by Mosley allowed the Trojans to push their advantage to 71-58 with 4 minutes, 15 seconds remaining.
"We allowed 22 points in the second half, and that is an amazing defensive effort," McBrayer said. "We did that by getting everybody involved."
Bardley added 16 points, while Sherrod and Foster (11), and Mayberry (10) also reached double figures.
"We are at our best when everybody plays a part," Foster said. "This was the type of offensive game that can really give us confidence. As long as we don't forget what we are doing on the defensive end, we can be successful."
New Hope won a region game for the second time in the week. The victory against Oxford followed a 75-64 region victory against Saltillo. The first rotation of the region schedule is completed Friday at West Point.
The region tournament begins Feb. 12 at New Hope.
"I really like where we are," McBrayer said. "You always have things to work on. However, I like two region wins and the fact we played well in both of those wins. The region tournament is at home, and that is a huge advantage for us.
"We have a great atmosphere here. The student body really gets into the game. That is a big reason why we won this game. The crowd gets excited and the kids really respond to that. I am appreciative of the atmosphere we had out here. It kept the kids energized and helped us rally."
Nick Brown led Oxford with 21 points, 12 points from Cortez Jones (12) and Justin Hill (11) also reached double figures.
New Hope will play host to Pickens County on Tuesday. It will play Friday at West Point.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter