JELLICO — No Malicoat? No problem.
At least that is the way it seemed for much of Friday’s District 4-A battle here. Facing district runner-up Oneida for the first time without Cody Malicoat — who is currently playing at MTSU — the Blue Devils took the Indians to the wire, but ultimately saw Oneida emerge victorious with a 58-50 win.
Oneida (11-4, 4-1) shot 44 percent from the field, including 43 percent from 3-point range, to earn the win.
With the victory, Oneida’s third straight over the Blue Devils, the Indians broke a second-place tie with Jellico in the district standings.
Cole West scored 19 points, while Noah Duncan added 13 and Trevor Allen grabbed 10 rebounds.
Jellico was led by Brian Hicks’ 14 points.
A bonus for Oneida was the free throw line, a spot the Indians have had their struggles at times this season. Oneida shot a season-high 81 percent from the line as a team (17-of-21), including 7-of-8 by West and 5-of-6 by Duncan.
The Indians jumped to a quick 8-0 lead behind 3-point shots by Duncan and Austin Yaden, and appeared on the verge of running away with the game early.
But Jellico battled back after a time out, tying the game at 10.
The Blue Devils never led in the first quarter but did keep things close, and grabbed a 26-24 lead late in the first half on a shot by Hicks.
The Indians led by as much as eight points in the third period, but Jellico continued to hang around in the final period, and cut the gap to 52-50 with 1:57 remaining.
But West knifed his way to the bucket to score on the Indians’ next possession, and a Clay Jeffers deflection led to a Jellico turnover with 41 seconds remaining.
From there, the free throw line was Oneida’s biggest ally, as the Indians pulled away for their fourth district win of the season.
Oneida was to have continued district play at Coalfield on Tuesday. The Indians will step outside the district tomorrow (Friday) for a road trip to Monterey.
Oneida, which has not played a home game since Dec. 11, will continue its travels next week, with games at Cumberland Gap (Jan. 15), Wartburg (Jan. 18) and McCreary Central (Jan. 19). The Lady Indians will not play in Stearns on Jan. 19.
SCORING: Oneida — C. West 19, Duncan 13, Flint 8, Allen 7, C. Jeffers 7, Yaden 3, Boshears 1. Jellico — Hicks 14, Bolton 9, Bowlin 9, Rowe 8, Elliot 5, Bruce 5.