Riding defense to a strong start

Showing no lingering effects from a 19-day gap between games, the Oxford Wildcats ran past the Rochester Falcons, 57-40, at Rochester High School in their return to the court on Jan. 7.
Happy to get back to their winning ways after having their loss to the rival Lake Orion Dragons hanging over their heads during Christmas break, head coach Steve Laidlaw was very satisfied with his team’s performance.
“The first half was the best we’ve played all year,” he said. “We were ahead 36-15 at halftime. (Junior) Zach Townsend was tremendous, made three three-pointers, got to the free throw line four times and made three of them, played great defense, as well.”
Continuing their tour through Rochester Hills, the boys next traveled to Adams High School to battle the Highlanders on Jan. 10. In what was serving as the school’s Oakland Activities Association (OAA) White-opener, Oxford was able to pull away in the second half for a 46-25 victory.
Stifling Adams all night long, the Wildcats held the Highlanders to just 15 points in the first half and allowed only two points in the third quarter.
“We began to take it to another level last year,” Laidlaw said of the program’s emphasis on the defensive end of the floor. “Zach and (senior) Trey (Townsend) did a great job of holding No. 21 (sophomore Joni Ursuy) and No. 22 (senior Peyton Prieskorn) in check.”
Prieskorn, Adams’ leading scorer, was held to just three points in the contest with all three coming in the first four minutes of the game.
While expecting to be able to limit the opposition to 25 points per game is an unrealistic expectation moving forward, Oxford has backed up Laidlaw’s claim by holding all but one of their foes to 40 points or less thus far.
Featuring two rim-rocking dunks, Trey Townsend led the Wildcats’ offensive attack with 17 points. Juniors Mason Mulholland (10) and Ethan Robinson (nine) also had strong nights.
“Ethan gets better every day,” Laidlaw shared. “He works hard every day in practice and is one of our co-captains, along with Trey. Very coachable young man.
“He got hurt right about this time last year and couldn’t practice. He hurt his shoulder a year ago, but has recovered from that, had a great summer, a great fall and continues to get better.”
Standing just 5-foot-9, Mulholland is generally one of the smaller players on the floor but can still finish in traffic around the rim, like former Michigan Wolverine and Purdue Boilermaker Spike Albrecht.
“The biggest thing for Mason is he’s starting to really, really believe in himself,” Laidlaw said of his starting point guard. “The best is yet to come with him. He’s a good shooter, hit a big three for us in the third quarter. If he can become more consistent from deep, he can be even better.”
With these two wins, Oxford now stands at 4-1 (1-0 OAA White). Due to an interesting decision by the league’s schedule makers, the team will face the Southfield A&T Warriors in back-to-back games on Jan. 14 and 16.
The Jan. 14 contest took place at the Ian Smith Gymnasium and results were not available at press time. The Wildcats will hit the road for the Jan. 16 clash; both games begin at 7 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.