Kade Kinzel

Oak Hill’s Kade Kinzel (right) shoots a flaoater just over the outstretched arm of Wellston’s Garrett Brown in the Oaks’ 60-51 victory over the Golden Rockets on Tuesday.

WELLSTON — Tuesday was more than just a season opener for Oak Hill. It was step one on a long list of goals it aims to check off this season.

The Oaks used their experience and size advantage on the inside to get their season started off on the right foot with a 60-51 victory over Wellston on Tuesday.

“We worked on a number of things coming into this game, and we were able to execute them just like we wanted to,” Oak Hill coach Heath McKinniss said. “This was a hard fought victory and even though Wellston applied some late pressure, we held on. A situation like that last year, we probably would have lost, but we got the stops when we needed to and knocked down our free throws.”

Kade Kinzel and Connor Clark came out and set the early tone for the Oaks.

Whether it was knocking down shots, making the hustle plays or playing stout defense, they made their impact felt early by scoring 12 of Oak Hill’s opening 18 points to control an 18-14 lead.

Evan Brown’s eight first-quarter points helped keep Wellston afloat. Then Garrett Brown led the charge on an 7-2 run, scoring five points to give the Golden Rockets a 21-20 advantage.

However, the Oaks answered right back behind Kinzel as he scored five of the next eight Oak points to help put them ahead 28-24 at halftime.

“This was all about playing with heart and hustling for every ball,” Kinzel said. “We set the tone early with hustle plays and converting those buckets. It came down to letting the game come to me and just staying in the middle of everything.”

Kinsel’s impact cooled off in the third, so Oak Hill switched up styles. It decided to go with bully ball inside using Aidan Hall and Evan Fisher as the main catalysts.

Hall scored the first six points, then Fisher came off the bench to add extra firepower that Wellston couldn’t handle.

Together they combined to have 15 of Oak Hill’s 17 points in the third, which pushed its lead up to 45-38.

“I struggled in the first half, so I told myself during halftime that if I didn’t pick it up in the second half, we’re going to lose,” Hall said. “It came down to us just outhustling them and wanting it more.”

“We’re going to knock down shots at some point, but when it doesn’t happen, those guys have to step up,” McKinniss said. “They played a great game and that has to be how we operate. Dumping the ball inside and setting up for the open shot. They played really well together on the court.”

Both offenses stalled out of the gates in the fourth, until Kinzel re-emerged again with a steal and layup. That put Oak Hill ahead double digits at 49-38.

Although Wellston managed to cut the lead down to five points later in the game, the hole was simply a bit too deep to climb out of.

“We’ve focused a lot more on bonding as a team and coming together,” Hall said. “Developing that chemistry helps us in the long run so we’ll continue to build from this.”

Kinzel finished with 22 points to lead Oak Hill, followed by Hall with 16 points and six rebounds while Fisher added 11 points and five rebounds.

For Wellston, Garrett Brown finished with a game-high 23 points and five rebounds, while Evan Brown added 18 points and four rebounds.

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