OHS boys fall in basketball district finals

Alec Brown shoots a late first quarter 3-pointer against Grand Blanc at Davison High School on Friday, March 11. Photo by D. Vaglia

By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford High School boys varsity basketball team had a full run at the MHSAA District 4 Playoffs at Davison High School, making their way through the play-in, past the tournament hosts and coming up short at the finals.
The week began against the Flint Kearsley Hornets on Monday, March 7. Both teams failed to secure a bye-in through regular season play and played each other to go further. The Wildcats outpaced the Hornets to a season-high 71-65 victory.
“Numerous people had great games,” Head Coach Steve Laidlaw said. “Alec Brown led us with 18 points, Jake Champagne had 16, Logan Rozanski had a career high of 13 points [and] Mitchell Viviano had 15 points.”
The Wildcats then had to face down the Davison Cardinals on Wednesday, March 9. The game came down to the wire, but Oxford was able to secure a 46-45 win to move on.
“We were down the entire game until 25 seconds to go,” Laidlaw said. “Bryce Esman had two free-throws to put us down by one, and Esman came up with a big defensive rebound. [Davison] fouled him, and they had one last desperation shot that was off the mark.”
Laidaw said the boys played a “fantastic” final quarter against the Cardinals.
“We did a great job taking care of the basketball in the fourth quarter,” Laidlaw said.
Key players against Davison were Brown with three 3-point plays, Champagne scored a 3-pointer of his own, Rozanski scored 8 points and Esman made 16 points and 10 rebounds on top of his clutch plays.
With Davison taken care of the boys made their third district finals appearance in six years, this time against 2021 MHSAA Division 1 champions the Grand Blanc Bobcats on Friday, March 11. Though Oxford put up a valiant effort, they were outmatched on all sides of the ball by Grand Blanc, losing 32-66.
“We were just overwhelmed by Grand Blanc’s pressing defense,” Laidlaw said. “Their athleticism and quickness was just way too much for us to handle. Our turnovers … really reared its ugly head in that game from the beginning all the way until basically the end. We just could not beat their pressure.”
The Oxford varsity boys finished their season with a 10-13 record. While failing to win the OAA Blue and proceed farther in the postseason, Laidlaw is impressed with how far the team has come this season.
“I just want to thank the administration for doing every step necessary for these kids to have a normal season and a memorable season,” Laidlaw said. “We were able to play all our games … The town’s support was amazing; we had great crowds that traveled with us, the crowds at Davison were wonderful … My goal was to bring the kids joy, peace and hope, and I think the program did that. The kids embraced their responsibility for healing the community, and they did that as well.”
Laidlaw gave a specific thank you to the seniors for the example they set for the team’s younger players.
“I just want to thank the seniors for completing their season after the enormous tragedy of Nov. 30,” Laidlaw said. “They led by example and were very resilient and played with a lot of pride and courage. I will never forget them.”
Right now, Laidlaw is looking forward to next season with high hopes, citing the 17-3 JV and 14-6 freshman teams and the young players from the varsity squad.

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