Oxford’s Sophia Raab dribbles into the Stoney Creek defense during the girls varsity basketball game on Friday. Photo by Megan Kelley
Wildcats fall to Cougars 49-38
By Megan Kelley
OXFORD TWP. – The gymnasium was full last Thursday of Wildcats who came to not only support the Oxford High School girls basketball team in their game against the Stoney Creek Cougars but also to pay tribute and honor Hana St. Juliana, one of four students who were killed in the tragedy that occurred at the school on Nov. 30, 2021. St. Juliana was a member of the school’s volleyball team, basketball team and lacrosse team, she was just 14-years-old.
Every year Oxford’s girls basketball team utilizes one of its home games to pay tribute to St. Juliana, honor her memory and raise money for the Hana Memorial Garden fund.
Attendees were asked to dress in Hana/floral apparel and leis were given out at the door.
Before the game began, several students shared their memories of St. Juliana and what she meant to them. Stoney Creek captains also presented flowers to Oxford captains Lexie Yankee and Peyton Richter to pay tribute.
“They stay pretty quiet about everything but man – they look forward to this night. They look forward to seeing their friends come out and enjoy something bigger than what they’re able to do each and every game that we have at home,” said head coach Rachel Bryer. “It’s really important to them and the community and everybody, but know that we’re here and we honor and respect Hana and we think of her all the time.”
Heading into the game, Stoney Creek topped the OAA Red division 2-0 while Oxford sat at 0-1.
“We were expecting a fast and quick team to come out. Obviously we didn’t execute in certain areas that we wanted to but I thought overall it was a pretty good match between both teams,” Bryer said.
Oxford came out of the gate strong, running a full court press and forcing numerous turnovers in the first quarter. Within minutes, the Cougars had used one of their timeouts to regroup and came back strong, keeping the quarter close.
A last minute three-point shot by senior Braydee Elling at the end of the first quarter put the Wildcats up 16-14.
In the second quarter, Stoney Creek and Oxford kept pace with each other. As the game continued to get more physical, Oxford pulled out of their press and switched to man-to-man to try and shake things up.
“I think with any good team, you know – too much of a good thing. They’re a smart team. They’re going to figure out the things that we do and find gaps and that’s what they did. Most of the time down the floor, when we ran our press they were able to find gaps so we went back and forth between our man and our press and we were hopeful we would get some steals out of it and it happened early on and then now and then,” said Bryer.
The second half started with a 20-20 tie but a combination between missed shots and foul calls against the Wildcats gave the Cougars an edge, as Stoney Creek sank a handful of three-point shots and open layups.
At the final buzzer, the Cougars came out victorious 49-38. However, because the game had been so close throughout, it gave the Wildcats a good outlook on what the team is capable of doing the rest of the season.
“Stoney is doing so well. To think that we have a shot at being really competitive, which we kind of already knew that we were going to compete in our league regardless but as long as our girls keep working hard, playing teams like this is going to make us better,” Bryer said.
The Wildcats are now 7-5 overall and 0-2 in the OAA Red. The ladies head south to take on the Lake Orion High School Dragons on Tuesday after Leader press time.
To donate to the Hana Memorial Garden visit hanamemorialfund.com.