Their second Oakland Activities Association Red Division opponent of the season, the Oxford Lady Wildcats basketball team hit the road to battle the Birmingham Groves Falcons on Dec. 10.
A high-scoring affair featuring strong shooting and takes to the rim on both sides, the Wildcats were able to keep it close for the first quarter-and-a-half before the Falcons pulled away late for a 62-49 victory.
Knocking down six three-pointers, junior Rachel Sample led Groves with 20 points. Senior Ellie Ruprich, a South Carolina Gamecocks volleyball commit, added 18 points.
Fresh off being named the MLive Metro Detroit Player of the Week for her 26-point performance in the season-opening win over Bloomfield Hills on Dec. 3, junior Emma Morris scored a team-high 15 points for Oxford. Fellow junior and starting guard Mackenzie Methner chipped in 14 points.
Looking to get back in the win column, the girls had another road contest on Dec. 13 – this one against the Armada Tigers.
Members of the Blue Water Area Conference, the Wildcats jumped all over the Tigers early, leading 17-2 after the opening eight minutes. Not taking their foot off the proverbial gas pedal, Oxford cruised to a 60-26 victory.
Seniors Gabby Dinges and Sarah Tyrrell plus Methner and Morris all scored in double-figures for the Wildcats.
Based on her team’s work ethic, head coach Rachel Bryer was confident her girls would deliver an inspired performance. “We did have a lot of conversations on what we needed to improve on, but we work hard every day in practice,” she said.
“For us, it’s about execution and making sure we come mentally prepared for every game. I have no doubt in my mind that my girls will work hard, and the execution and working together are getting better, too.”
A tactic frequently displayed by last season’s team, Oxford used their full-court pressure defense to harass Armada’s ball-handlers all night long. Allowing Dinges and Methner to showcase their quick hands and athleticism, the Wildcats held the Tigers to just eight points in the first half.
“This year, we’ve taken it slow since we only have five girls coming back,” Bryer said of her decision to implement the full-court press more in this contest. “We’ve been putting a lot of pieces together in learning how to run the press the way we want to run it, so it has taken us a little longer.
“This was a very good game for us to get some live practice with it.”
Standing at 3-1 overall, Oxford will open up OAA White play against the Troy Colts on the road on Tuesday, Dec. 17. The girls will return home to host the North Farmington Lady Raiders on Friday, Dec. 20. Both games tip at 7 p.m.