Cats split pair of thrillers with Southfield A&T

The result of an interesting scheduling quirk, the Oxford Wildcats basketball team squared off with the Southfield A&T Warriors in back-to-back Oakland Activities Association (OAA) White games on Jan. 14 and 16.
Formed in 2016-17 as the result of a merger between Southfield and Southfield-Lathrup, the Jan. 14 showdown at the Ian Smith Gymnasium was the Wildcats’ first time ever facing the Warriors.
Early on, the game was all Southfield A&T as Darryle Buchanan’s team rode junior Caleb Banks and senior Jailin Lee

Senior Trey Townsend, center, is mobbed by teammates Pedro Bottene, left, and Silas VonAllman after hitting a game-winning shot. Photo by TZR Sports.

to a 16-2 lead after the first quarter and a 21-point halftime advantage.
Steadily chipping away at the deficit, Oxford trimmed the gap to 45-31 after three quarters. Building off this momentum and proving once again basketball is a game of runs, the Wildcats stormed all the way back to tie the game at 50 and took a 56-53 lead with 12 seconds to play.
Trying desperately to force overtime, the Warriors missed their initial heave, but a long rebound kicked out to Lee who buried a game-tying three pointer with two seconds left in regulation.
Oxford began the four-minute extra session strong, jumping ahead by six, 64-58. Eerily like the situation at the end of the fourth quarter, Oxford was ahead by two, 68-66, with eight seconds on the clock.
Just as he had done to send the game to overtime, Lee confidently pulled up and hit another three-pointer as time ran out to allow Southfield A&T to leave with a 69-68 road victory.
Lee’s 26 points led the Warriors, while Banks added 15. Senior Trey Townsend scored a game-high 28 points for the Wildcats. Sophomore Bryce Esman played his best game of the season, chipping in 15 points of his own.
Eager to put this heartbreaker behind them, Oxford made the trip to Southfield A&T for the return game on Jan. 16.
This time around, the Wildcats raced out of the gate, taking a 38-27 lead into the halftime break. Just as Oxford had done to them two days prior, the Warriors began to mount their comeback effort in the third quarter, pulling ahead for the first time all night on a 60-foot prayer to end the frame.
Leading by four points with 19 seconds to play, Southfield A&T was within sight of the season sweep. Townsend, however, had other ideas. The Oakland University commit scored five points in an 18-second span, including a 14-footer with one second left on the clock to give the Wildcats a 72-71 victory.
Once that elusive final second ticked off the scoreboard, pandemonium erupted, and Townsend was mobbed on the court by his teammates. The latest sparkling performance in a season that could garner Mr. Basketball attention, Townsend finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
A pair of junior guards, Pedro Bottene and Mason Mulholland, both posted career-highs with 13 and 14 points, respectively. Another junior, Palmer Speck scored in double-figures for the second straight game, tallying 10 points.
With the thrilling win, the Wildcats improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in OAA White play. This league record is good enough for a share of second-place in the division, along with Southfield A&T and the Troy Colts. The Farmington Falcons (4-4, 3-0) currently occupy first-place.
Oxford returned to the floor at home on Jan. 21 against Farmington; results from this contest were not available at press time. Rounding out a three-game homestand, the team will also battle Troy on Jan. 24 and the Lapeer Lightning on Jan. 28, both games begin at 7 p.m.

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