By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Relying on several new faces, it was important for the Oxford High School girls’ basketball team to begin their season on the right foot. Last week, the Wildcats busted out of the gates going 2-0.
Hitting the road to battle the Bloomfield Hills Black Hawks on Dec. 3, the Wildcats were able to do just that thanks to some timely three-point shooting.
Led by junior Emma Morris’ game-high 26 points, Oxford completed the second half comeback and prevailed, 59-57.
Trailing from the game’s onset, the Wildcats were finally able to take the lead when Morris buried one of her six three-pointers on the night to give the team a 53-51 edge with 3:20 left to play.
The two squads traded baskets, resulting in a tie at 57-apiece with less than a minute to play. Displaying the athleticism that makes
her a presence on both ends of the floor, junior Mackenzie Methner went coast-to-coast for the game-winning layup with 15 seconds remaining.
While Morris accounted for nearly half of Oxford’s points, seniors Gabby Dinges and Aleah Dymond contributed nine and eight key points, respectively.
“We had kind of been struggling with determining our roles in practice, but we went a long way toward figuring it out tonight,” head coach Rachel Bryer shared postgame.
“I played eight girls tonight, and seven of them were able to score.”
With Bloomfield Hills residing in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, this was an impressive fashion for the Wildcats to begin their season in.
“They’re really good,” Bryer said of the Black Hawks. “Well-coached team, too. I thought we did an alright job of executing our game plan, but obviously, being able to come on the road and show you can compete with the league’s top teams is a good feeling.”
Looking to keep this success rolling in their home-opener, the girls welcomed the Walled Lake Central Vikings to the Ian Smith Gymnasium on Dec. 6.
Unlike the first game of the campaign which featured plenty of offensive firepower, this matchup was much more of a defensive struggle.
Seemingly unable to find their shooting touch in the first quarter, Oxford was held scoreless as Walled Lake Central jumped out to an 8-0 lead.
From this point on, however, things would play out much differently. Outscoring the Vikings, 25-2, over the game’s middle two quarters, the Wildcats rebounded to win, 31-24, and move to 2-0 on the young season.
All 13 girls appeared in the victory and Morris was once again Oxford’s leading scorer with nine points. Methner added six points, while Dinges and Dymond each chipped in four.
Perhaps battling the nerves of playing in front of their home crowd for the first time, Bryer can pinpoint the moment in the game when the momentum began to shift. She also pointed out the unique challenge Walled Lake Central’s defense represented.
“During a timeout early in the second quarter, our mentality began to change,” Bryer explained. “It was our first time seeing a 2-3 zone, so we were forcing it a lot in the first quarter. Once we settled down, our options began to open.
“To have a second and third quarter with them only scoring two points is great, our defense really picked up. But we must do a better job in the fourth quarter of making sure we’re finishing strong and translating that to all four quarters, not just one or two.”
A prime example of doing whatever it takes to leave with the win, Bryer was proud of the resilience her team showed.
“We have a lot of grit and the girls really pay attention in practice,” she said. “They run things the way they’re supposed to be run and they’re very disciplined.
“Having a big crowd definitely helped, too. The band, the dancers, all the fans, it was nice to have everyone out here like this.”
This week the Wildcats hit the road. On Tuesday they traveled to Birmingham Groves. This Friday they travel to Armada. Tipoff time is at 7 p.m.