Feb 28, 2019
(By Paula Pasche - firstname.lastname@example.org)
It's been a special season for Oxford so far and they are not done yet. The Wildcats defeated Waterford Kettering, 57-44, in an MHSAA Division 1 district semifinal game at Lake Orion on Wednesday night. Oxford now advances to play Lake Orion in the district title game at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Wildcats enter that game with a 21-1 record and an OAA Blue championship. They are seeking their first district title since 1993. Coach Steve Laidlaw said he expected they would have a good season although he didn't foresee losing only one game.
"I knew we could win the OAA Blue, even with Ferndale's transfers and Pontiac's resurgence,'' Laidlaw said. "We can play defense and we've got some kids who can shoot.''
They proved that all over again in the matchup with Kettering.
"We're an aggressive defense. (We were) getting rebounds in the first half. We had a couple bad missed assignments, giving them wide-open 3s on shooters we're not supposed to, then we settled down and got the ball inside to Trey (Townsend), Michael (Raisch) was really good getting into the lane,'' Laidlaw said.
Kettering was not a pushover early. The score was tied at 12-12 at the end of the first quarter. Oxford then went on a 10-4 run, but the Captains clawed back and were down just 24-23 at the half.
"Too many miscues down the stretch. First half we played good, second half we kind of let go — missed shots, missed opportunities on rebounds. At one time they had six offense rebounds on one possession. That hurt,'' Kettering coach Anthony Phifer said.
"First half we did well — some of our younger guys came in and did a good job off the bench. The second half we kind of got flat. In the third quarter, they had an 8-0 run and we couldn't bounce back,'' Phifer added.
It was the second time this season the teams had met.
"They beat us by 5 the first time. We fought, we just let go down the stretch,'' said Phifer whose team finished the season 9-12. "I'm proud of my guys, it's hard to lose but we fought, we didn't lay down we came out and fought.''
Captains' sophomore guard Bennie Crenshaw finished with a team-high 18 points while Travis Frazier added 13.
"I thought we did a really good job on No. 11, Crenshaw is a very good player — did a really good job on him, made him earn his shots, made him earn his points I should say,'' Laidlaw said. "We valued the ball a lot. Offensively and defensively we just wanted it a lot more in the second half.''
For Oxford, junior forward Trey Townsend had a game-high 20 points while Raisch added 15. It was the sixth straight win for Oxford which opened the season 15-0, then lost a 66-59 to Ferndale.
"We refocused and I thought going to Pontiac and beating them (49-46) there in that raucous environment. I thought that was a turning point, two weeks ago,'' Laidlaw said.
Oxford beat Lake Orion 56-44 in mid-January, but that does not mean much now.
"We're going to have our work cut out for us,'' Laidlaw said
(Photo Cred. - TZR Sports)