WEST POINT — It was just a matter of time Tuesday before the Rachel Hollivay effect wore down Oak Hill Academy”s girls basketball team.
The Heritage Academy center made just 3 of 13 shots in the first half and saw her team trail 17-14 at halftime.
What the Lady Patriots had failed to do in their four previous games, including a 19-point loss to the Lady Raiders, was effectively close games.
At the center of Heritage Academy”s attack, Hollivay had triple double and scored the go-ahead basket Tuesday night in a 40-38 overtime win against Oak Hill.
The junior had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 blocked shots, and saved her best work for the extra period, where she scored all six of her team”s points and nailed the winning basket on a hook shot with less than 10 seconds to play.
The aggressive move in the post was a reward for dealing with an aggressive and physical defense and overcoming struggles to find an offensive rhythm.
“If my shot wasn”t falling, I”m going back into the post,” Hollivay said. “The plays we run, they”re mostly for me being outside or on the free-throw line. But I came back into the post, and that”s where I really belong.”
Hollivay, who scored just 12 points in a 52-33 loss to Oak Hill on Jan. 17 in Columbus, made 9 of 22 shots in the rematch.
Heritage Academy (14-13) snapped a four-game losing streak ahead of division matches against Clarksdale-Lee and Magnolia Heights.
Hollivay said she feels healthy following a delayed recovery from foot surgery, which forced her to miss five games and labor through three others.
“I just got better and better, working hard on my foot, doing my exercises and going to rehab,” she said. “I had to work hard on my own instead of in practice. It was just about working harder.”
Heritage Academy coach Bruce Allsup believes having Hollivay in triple-double form could lead to Class AAA, Division 2 hardware.
“We feel we”ve got just as good of a chance to win the D-2 state championship,” Allsup said. “We expect to win it, and this was a good barometer to where we can gauge ourselves. Oak Hill wore us out last time we played them.”
Oak Hill Academy (20-8) has struggled with its shooting in dropping two of its past three games. The Lady Raiders shot 28.9 percent at Starkville Academy on Saturday and made only 19 percent of their shots Tuesday.
Rachel Herndon and Meagan Ellis each had eight points for Oak Hill Academy. Coach Stan Hughey bemoaned his team”s poor shooting because it spoiled an otherwise excellent performance.
“You shoot 19 percent against a three-A school and get beat in double overtime, it tells you how hard the girls are playing,” Hughey said. “You just can”t win shooting like that. Every possession becomes so crucial. We had a lot of opportunities. We made defensive stops but just couldn”t take care of the ball well enough.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Oak Hill Academy found its range against a matchup zone and erased a seven-point deficit with three-straight 3-pointers. Tori Ellis hit a pair and Anna Ready knocked down another to tie the game at 32.
As Hollivay began to produce in the second half, the other Lady Patriots came through when needed.
Guard Stephanie Cruse hit a layup to push the lead to 34-32 and came up with a steal on the next possession.
Christibeth Nelson (seven points) also got the first of back-to-back steals in overtime.
“Two or three times (Heritage forward Jessie) Householder would get a dang rebound where we wouldn”t block out,” Hughey said. “Cruse did the same thing. I thought their role players did a great job tonight. That was the difference in the ballgame.”
After losing two possession in overtime, Oak Hill Academy tied the game at 38 following an offensive rebound and two free throws from Ready.
The Lady Patriots were called for a lane violation at the other end with 26.5 seconds left in regulation.
Meagan Ellis gave the ball right back after traveling, squandering the chance to score and to hold the last shot of the game.
Heritage Academy travels Friday to Clarksdale-Lee, while Oak Hill Academy will play host to the Lamar School on Thursday for Senior Night.
Heritage Academy 51, Oak Hill Academy 29
The Patriots were on cruise control after the first period and rolled to the victory.
Heritage Academy led 17-4 entering the second quarter and showed coach Yandell Harris the kind of up-tempo pace he has been looking for with Cole Walker running the offense.
“At times, we have a tendency to watch Cole bring it down instead of running the floor,” Harris said, “so we wanted to work on that and get in our offense quicker. You could see us executing our sets more, too.”
After the first quarter, the Patriots (12-10) led by 13 points or more and held Oak Hill Academy to just seven made baskets.
Cade Lott led Heritage Academy with 11 points, while Walker had 10. David Hardy added eight off the bench.
Zach Bryan, who scored the game-winner Monday against Hebron Christian, led Oak Hill (10-15) with eight.
“We did better on the boards, but when you shoot 7-for-37 you won”t win ballgames,” Oak Hill Academy coach Brian Middleton said. “We got a little down, and you got to learn to play through stuff like that. Eventually, you have to start hitting some shots.
“Heritage did a good job guarding us. They changed man to zone all night, and changed on the move sometimes. We got to figure it out a little bit quicker and get our stuff together.”