By PAUL HINES
Oblong is the next obstacle in another march to the state final for the Cardinals basketball team.
The two teams meet tonight in the Altamont sectional semifinal.
Oblong enters with a 20-11 overall record, and senior Anthony Johnson leads the Panthers’ offense. The 6-5 guard averages 25 points a game. He also leads the team in assists (3.7) and rebounds (9.6). Another senior Collin Messe averages 9.2 points a game, and Gerald Richardson adds seven points a contest.
Oblong won the Dietrich regional after wins against Neoga and the host school in the championship. Johnson led a trio of Oblong double figure scorers and finished with 17 points.
Woodlawn eliminated Oblong from last season’s 1A tournament with a 53-51 victory in the sectional final.
The Cardinals enter the sectional round after a pair of blowout wins in the regional. Woodlawn turned a close halftime semifinal game against South Central into a 54-25 final. The Cardinals’ defense held South Central to just eight points in the second half. Woodlawn won Friday’s title game 69-25 over Centralia Christ Our Rock. The championship marked the sixth straight regional crown for the school.
The Cardinals are currently ranked No. 3 in the 1A rankings and have lost just three games all season. Woodlawn dropped games early in the year against Okawville and Breese Mater Dei before ripping off 18 straight wins. Flora stopped the streak after edging the Cardinals 54-53 at a standing room only Sides Gymnasium contest. The Cardinals finished the Midland Trail Conference schedule with a perfect 13-0 record.
Tonight’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. Nokomis and North Clay play Wednesday night in the other sectional semifinal matchup.