The Enterprise Wildcats’ historic 2020-2021 basketball season came to a close in a 41-37 loss to the Oak Mountain Eagles in the Class 7A State Championship on March 3 at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham.
The two sides battled it out for four quarters, with neither side being able to pull away from the other, until the Eagles finally prevailed.
Enterprise and Oak Mountain both got off to a slow start offensively in the first quarter and Enterprise didn’t score its first point until four minutes into the period. The Eagles would take a 7-3 lead into the second quarter.
A jumper from Elijah Terry with 5:55 left in the first half tied the score up 7-7 for the first time since the beginning of the game. Oak Mountain’s size – especially inside – gave Enterprise fits around the rim as the Eagles blocked five Wildcat shots in the first half.
Enterprise’s defense kept it in the game in the second quarter as neither team could find the basket. Still, Oak Mountain outscored Enterprise 4-1 in the period to take an 11-8 halftime lead. Enterprise shot just 16 percent from the field in the first half and Oak Mountain shot just 21 percent.
A basket from Jalen Cunningham cut Oak Mountain’s lead to 13-12 with just under six minutes left in the third quarter but the Eagles responded with back-to-back threes to extend the lead out to 19-12 with 4:52 left in the third.
Enterprise freshman Keion Dunlap weaved his way through a number of Oak Mountain defenders to make a layup plus a foul but missed the free throw to cut the lead to 19-14 with four minutes to go in the period.
Enterprise finished the period on a 6-3 run to cut the Oak Mountain lead to 22-20 going into the final period of play.
Dunlap knocked down a layup as the fourth quarter began to tie the score at 22-22 with 7:30 left in the game. Elijah Terry hit a floater on the next Enterprise possession to give the Wildcats a 24-22 lead with 6:43 left. It was Enterprise’s first lead since early in the first quarter.
Quentin Hayes drilled a wide open three-pointer – one of the few open looks Enterprise got all night – with 5:32 left to extend Enterprise’s lead to 27-22.
Oak Mountain responded with a layup to cut the lead to 27-24 with 5:24 left. The Eagles nailed a three of their own with 4:49 left to tie the game at 27-27. Jalen Cunningham gave Enterprise a 29-27 lead after stealing a pass and knocking down a layup with 3:40 left.
The back-and-fourth slugfest continued as Oak Mountain knocked down a layup of its own with 3:10 left to tie the score again 29-29. Josh McCray muscled his way to the basket for a layup after grabbing a rebound and retook the lead 31-29 for Enterprise with 2:56 left. McCray was also fouled on the play but missed the free throw.
Oak Mountain answered right back with a three-pointer to retake the lead 32-31 with 2:32 remaining. The Eagles extended the lead to 34-31 with a layup with just two minutes left. A free throw extended the lead to 35-31 with 1:38 left.
As the clock ticked under a minute the Wildcats were forced to foul to try and conserve time and another Eagle free throw extended its lead to 36-31 with 56 seconds remaining.
Elijah Terry then drove hard to the basket and converted a reverse layup to cut the Oak Mountain lead to 36-33 with 49 seconds left. A pair of free throws stretched the Oak Mountain lead to 38-33 with 40 seconds left.
Enterprise missed an ensuing layup and was forced to foul again. Oak Mountain missed both free throws and Josh McCray knocked down a layup with 22 seconds left to cut the lead to 38-35. Enterprise fouled Oak Mountain again but this time both free throws were good extending the Eagle lead to 40-35 with 20 seconds left.
Jared Smith missed a three-pointer with five seconds remaining and the Wildcats were forced to foul again. Oak Mountain hit another free throw to seal the win. McCray hit a layup at the buzzer but Oak Mountain held on for the 41-37 win.
McCray led all scorers with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Terry added six points and 10 rebounds. McCray and Terry both earned All-Tournament honors, as well.
The Wildcats shot just 33 percent from the field in the loss and again struggled at the free throw line converting just 2-of-8 attempts.