Oconee County High School students returned to start second semester classes on Tuesday, Jan. 5, and many of them had their fill once the school day ended. The boys’ basketball team returned later that night to play Cross Keys High School, and the Warriors won 61-21.

Nine of 11 Warriors scored points, and three were in the double digits.

Jack Lonnee led with 12 points, Wyatt Cirou had 10 points and Zach Oechsle scored 10 points. Zach Oechsle only played in the second half, but coach Thad Burgess called him a leader and captain.

“He’s one that we feel we have to have on the court,” Burgess said about Zach Oechsle. “When he’s going, we have a chance.”

The Warriors have dealt with COVID-related issues but have not missed a game yet. With their win last Tuesday, the Warriors advanced to 10-2, and were on an eight-game win streak.

The Warriors got more practice than execution against Cross Keys. They were up 19-9 at half before exploding for 42 second-half points.

The players like to shoot from deep, but when they’re missing their shots, they believe they need a change in game plan.

“We have a green light to shoot,” Zach Oechsle said. “But if they're not falling, sometimes you just got to get in the paint to get things going, warm up and just get in the flow of the game. Start shooting again, and we'll start making them again.”

Burgess said that there is no secret to his team’s success, but it has to be more flexible and focused this year. That’s because the Warriors have missed at least one player in each of the seven games prior to Cross Keys due to quarantining, and sometimes Burgess has to call on junior varsity players to even be able to practice.

“You don't ever feel like you got a grasp on things,” Burgess said. “It feels like you've already played a season, but we haven’t even played half of our games. Our season is a head of us.”

Burgess also mentioned that the biggest challenges of the season would start the Friday after the Cross Keys game. The Warriors traveled to East Jackson for their first region matchup of the year and came away with a 78-47 win. Zach Oechsle led with 19 points, Lonnee had 15, Amorie Briston and Eli Nelson tied at 11 points and Trevor Oechsle had 10 points.

The Warriors defeated Cross Keys 66-27 again on Monday and are now 12-2, 1-0, and on a 10-game win streak as of press time.

“We're gaining some confidence here winning some games,” Burgess said. “I think that helps. ... Every day in practice, their attitude, they’re coachable. It's just a fun thing. I guess, being able to get through all this, having a group like this made it much easier”

This Friday, the Warriors travel to Stephens County High School to continue their region schedule and have a non-region matchup at North Oconee High School the next day. They will pick up the region schedule next Tuesday when they host Franklin County High School.

“I think it can definitely continue,” Zach Oechse said after the win streak became eight-straight. “We're going to have to work a little bit harder and focus a little more. We're definitely capable of doing that.”

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