DAVE MORRISON COLUMN

There is a beauty to the game of Oak Hill’s Darrick McDowell. An old-school beauty.

I don’t know if he embraces the new school game of his contemporaries, but let’s examine the facts.

Dunks? The 6-foot-5 post presence has exactly one of those this season.

Three-pointers? Well, McDowell doesn’t have any one of those.

What he does have is an array of post moves abound the basket that makes him a vital cog to the Oak Hill offense. To see him working around the paint, posting up, backing opponents down – that alone is seldom seen any more – harkens back to a by-gone era of basketball.

It is a thing of beauty to those who miss the old days of basketball.

And it has the Red Devils in position to make a run to the state tournament.

The Red Devils battle Wyoming East Thursday night at the Armory for the right to host a Region 3 co-final.

McDowell has been a huge part of the Red Devils offense, scoring on those post moves and stickbacks.

All that was created over the long hot summer vacation.

“It all comes from working in the summer,” McDowell said. “That’s pretty much all I work on, free throws and post moves.”

Oak Hill coach Benitez Jackson has noted several times how much more successful Oak Hill has been in games when it can establish McDowell in the paint.

“He wants the ball,” Jackson said. “We tell him we want him to be more vocal and tell these guys when he is open. I thought we could have gotten him more touches in the second half (he had 15 of his 19 points in a victory over Independence). I thought we missed him a few times.”

It brings to mind another great post player, Kalif Wright. Wright, of course,  led Oak Hill to two state championships and was runner-up for the state player of the year in 2011. Former Wyoming East coach Rory Chapman once said Wright was unstoppable once he got the ball on the block.

McDowell won’t reach near the numbers that Wright, Oak Hill’s all-time leading scorer did, but the comparisons make sense.

“Darrick has kind of established a little hook shot around the basket that Kalif was really good at,” said Jackson, who coached both at Oak Hill. “They both have really good touch around the basket. They both rebound out of their area really well.”

“Those guys, a lot of times you’ve got to foul them or they’re going to get a pretty good look.”

McDowell also sees his job as being a last bastion of support on opponent drives to the basket.

“I have to be a rim protector,” McDowell said. “Coach tells me all the time I need to be a rim protector and crush the offensive glass hard.”

Getting McDowell the ball is also a high percentage play.

“He’s shooting close to 70 percent from the field,” Jackson said. “So when we can get him the ball around the basket seven times out of 10 he is going to be successful.”

Next comes Wyoming East Thursday at the Armory for a right to host the loser of Region 3 Section 2 in the region co-final. The loser of Thursday’s game travel to the winner of Section 2. Shady Spring and Bluefield remain on the other side of the region.

McDowell expects another classic battle.

“Nothing less than everything they’ve got,” McDowell said. “Their best shot.”

The Region 3, Section 1 championship tips at 7 p.m.