By Brandon Speck
Oxford has become a team without a home. Or at least a team with a home it can’t unpack in just yet.
The Chargers will take their 15-7 record on the road for the remainder of the regular season, as the new Oxford High and gymnasium get final touches and the old school and gym get renovated for seventh and eighth graders next August.
“The state tournament’s on the road anyway,” Oxford’s 17th-year head coach Drew Tyler said.
The Chargers, which entered this week’s Northeast Mississippi rankings this week at No. 5, had to do some rescheduling to get their three division home games in. If faced with a home playoff game, that would likely be at Tad Smith Coliseum on the Ole Miss campus.
Oxford won a 5A title in 2001 and has been back to the tournament twice. It has its share of big wins, two over Calhoun City and a win over Division 2-5A favorite West Point, where it goes tonight. There are also games Tyler felt got away.
“North Pontotoc would be scoring on us now if we didn’t have to come home,” he said.
Oxford has experienced juniors, including starters Shelby McEwen, a 6-foot-2 forward who can play inside and outside and averages nearly a double-double, shooting guard Cortez Jones, guard Josh Gibbs and crafty forward David Dennis under the goal.
They lead the way in scoring, all in double figures except Dennis, who is only a point away.
The Chargers like to run, but slowed the pace to beat West Point.
Freshman point guard Jarkel Joiner starts at times, but also comes off the bench, rotating with senior Darryl King. DK Metcalf, a 6-foot-3 Ole Miss wide receiver commit, and Chargers football receiver KT McCollin provide quality minutes.
The biggest win that has escaped Oxford is against Callaway, which has ended the Chargers’ season each of the last three years.
An improved division with West Point, Saltillo and New Hope provides a division tournament challenge unlike some classes with a large margin between top and bottom seeds.
“We’ve tried to mix our schedule up and I think our district being better will get us ready, hopefully for that put-out game and that North half situation,” Tyler said.