War Eagles Slam Klein Oak in Opener 76-53

The most successful boys athletic program in Oak Ridge High School’s 5A history rolled the balls out last night to do battle with the Klein Oak Panthers. Who you ask? C’mon Mannn! Don’t you remember that thrilling journey the boys basketball team took us on last year to the third round of the state playoffs? School spirit was at an all time high as Rob Stewart’s band of basketballers made everyone realize that Oak Ridge will be a force to be reckoned with in all sports.

If last night’s game is any indication, the future holds the same fate for this War Eagle basketball contingent. It didn’t take long either as Oak Ridge took a quick 16-1 lead making a mockery of the Panther defense. It looked more like a fast break drill with Panther players posing as traffic cones. The first quarter ended with Oak Ridge comfortably in the lead 21-6.

It was more of the same to start the second stanza as everyone was getting involved for Oak Ridge. Daron Gamble displayed great concentration as he made a “three” from downtown after being taken out at the knees. He completed the 4-point play with the successful foul shot to make the score 27-8.

By this point, “Poetry in Motion” AKA “T” AKA Terrell Lawrence was already good for 12 points as like his namesake he was a man amongst boys out there.

However, it was at this point that Klein Oak decided to put up some resistance as their three’s starting falling and they went on an eight point run to at least pique the crowds interest back into the game. The halftime score was a respectable 38-29.

At the start of the second half, Klein Oak sank a quick bucket and they were within seven. In not appearing to be the least bit concerned, Terrell Lawrence weaved through several traffic cones for a nice lay-in and the Panthers never got closer than eight points. The third quarter concluded with Oak Ridge up 55-43.

The fourth quarter was all Oak Ridge and with Chase Daniels sinking a lay-up with time running out it looked like the final score would be 74-53. NOT! Danzel Brady stole the inbounds pass and rose high above the rim to slam the final two points home to put an exclamation point on Oak Ridge’s rousing start to the season.

Worthy of note:

Coach Rob Stewart: Coach has a good mix of players this year. One thing you know if you’ve been watching him operate for a while is no matter how many talented players he has they all play within his framework. You can be a superstar but in no way will it take away from the team. Coach Stewart’s teams always get along and the players are happy for each other’s success. It’s called chemistry and they’ve got it already. During any basketball season, teams have their ups and downs but the unselfish nature with which this team is run almost always guarantees that Oak Ridge is playing their best when it counts the most……..in the playoffs.

Taw Mann: Where did this guy come from? Mann will make a huge difference this year. He has size and is not afraid to mix it up under the glass. This, and he’s not stationary as he’s quite athletic moving up and down the floor like a gazelle.

Daron Gamble: Daron has come into his own and is playing great basketball. If he keeps playing like he did against Klein Oak, the team will excel and he will be in the discussion for numerous post-season awards.

Terrell Lawrence: OK this guy is ridiculous. One of the most athletic guys on any floor. In the past, at times has seemed like a free-lancer but he has learned to play a complete team game. Could the team win games with Terrell being a free-lancer? Yep. However, the team is ten times better when he is playing Stewart’s team game. If he plays the team game, the team will be as ridiculously talented together as Lawrence is individually.

Halen Butler: Butler will see more minutes this year. A total team guy with the touch of Rick Mount…..dated myself there…how about Jo Jo White..still dating…How about Chris Andersen without the tattoo’s and goggles? Yeah, Halen can play and proved it against Klein Oak showing he can produce.

Demarcus Fitch: Fast and quick with great court awareness. There were several instances against Klein Oak where he could have taken a shot but gave the ball up to a teammate who had a little (very little) better look. Unselfishness is going to make Oak Ridge that much more successful and Demarcus is leading the way in that category.

Mark Forson: Excellent ball handler who has learned Coach Stewart’s system to a T. Forson gives the opponent a different look and is invaluable on defense as evidenced by his sacrificing his body to take a charge in the opening seconds of the game to give Oak Ridge possession which started their 16-1 run.

Michael Handy: Just coming off of football, Michael was given limited minutes but fits right in already and just adds to the wide range of athleticism this team possesses. As the practices roll on, expect Handy to be a major factor in every game.

Rudy Robinson: The list of athletic players on this team never stops. Rudy just popped up on the varsity radar but the boy can flat out shoot and run the floor. That’s what is so huge about this team. You don’t have one player on the team that could be described as a one-dimensional player. Everyone can shoot and run the floor. On most teams, you’ll find a post guy who can get rebounds but lumbers up and down the floor with a respirator attached to his back. A player like that would be a liability for the War Eagles. Rudy fits right in and is a valuable part of Coach Stewart’s talented team.

Danzel Brady: You know, the more I go down the line, the more redundant I am getting with these guys. Here’s another athletic player who can shoot and run the floor. He’s also got slinky’s attached to his feet as he can jump to the rafters. What we lost in Muffins (Scott Bastian), Brady will pick up the slack.

Chase Daniels: Coming off of football like Handy, Chase will take a few practices to get acclimated back into the program. A scrapper, he will play hard at all times. With his athletic presence, Chase will always be where he is supposed to be. This is one of the most intense athletes in the school. With that intensity brings some extra-curricular fire which will need to be corralled. If so, his contributions will be huge!

FREE THROWS: The team was 62% from the charity stripe against Klein Oak and they won by almost 30 points anyway. There will be games where that percentage will have to climb. Of course, it’s early and teams generally get better at this important aspect of the game as the season progresses. Now, that being pointed out if they don’t improve at their free throws, come Christmas time for the team’s annual Free Throws for Santa promotion…..62% is just not gonna get it done! Right around that time the boys should all be shooting 90% from the free throw line and there will be gifts galore for some great people. If not, I’ll bail them out cuz I’m better than 62% year round. 😛

Incidentally, now that I am on that subject. Be on the lookout for the Free Throws for Santa promotion. The players in the organization will be raising money for this great cause and we should be rallying around it.

In summary, I’d hate to put unwanted pressure on the team but although last years team was exceptional, it looks like Oak Ridge is even deeper this year. Last year, Oak Ridge basketball brought the school together like nobodies business. This year’s group has that same potential. It’s early and I’m just a sports fan but I know what I saw against Klein Oak in that there is tremendous upside in every player.

Go to the games this year or you’ll be missing out.


1   2   3    4   total

Oak Ridge  21 17  17  21 – 76

Klein Oak   6   23  14  10 – 53

Taw Mann led the War Eagles with 7 rebounds


OR: 17 offensive rebounds

22 defensive rebounds

11 turnovers

2 blocks


Lawrence: 18

Gamble: 11

Butler: 9

Fitch: 8

Brady: 8

Mann: 7

Forson: 6

Robinson: 5

Handy: 2

Daniels: 2


Doug Sarant can be reached at doug@oakridgenow.com

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Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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