Oikle’s buzzer beater lifts Panthers to title

Published 9:26 am Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Georgiana Panthers now have their eyes set on the regular season with this year’s round of summer league basketball games firmly behind them, but not before going out with a bang.

The team headed to Montgomery Catholic June 26 for an eight-team tournament.

There was a noticeable amount of competition from larger schools, including Class 4A’s Alabama Christian Academy and Elmore County, Class 5A’s Tallassee and Class 6A’s Wetumpka.

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Despite having a relatively young team, Georgiana Coach Kirk Norris was proud of the poise his team showed in the face of such opposition.

“I was pleased with how our younger players, who lack experience, were able to stay composed and really compete,” Norris said. “Matching up with larger schools helped us gain some valuable experience for our players, and this summer has been a chance to get our team ready to compete next season.”

Those larger schools weren’t enough to stop the Panthers’ charge to the championship game of the tournament, with a win over Trinity in the first round and Goshen in the second. The final game saw the Panthers squaring off against Tallassee, and the contest came down to the very last possession.

Justin Oikle, a senior forward/center for Georgiana, received an inbound pass directly under the goal with two seconds left and managed to score the game-winning bucket for a one-point victory over Tallassee.

Oikle said that he was actually a little scared, but the trust he placed in his coach paid off in a big way.

“Coach drew up a good play and it came off the top of his head,” Oikle said. “I slipped down right under the goal after setting a screen for another player and I was wide open.”

Oikle found the entire summer league experience to be a vital one for the team’s upcoming season.

“We haven’t really played together a lot as a team,” Oikle said. “Last year there were eight seniors that were used to playing together, and this helped us get the feel of each other’s tendencies and helped us play together as a team.”