Oxford’s Nolan Mauser goes up for a basket during the Wildcats’ game against Ferndale University on Thursday. Mauser, one of the Wildcats defensive specialists, had five points in Oxford’s 60-20 victory over Ferndale. Photo by Jim Newell
By Jim Newell
OXFORD TWP. – The Oxford boys varsity basketball team has clicked and seem to have found their momentum during a five-game winning streak that began in December.
The Wildcats decisively won their fifth straight game on Thursday with a commanding 60-20 victory over the Ferndale University Eagles.
Oxford junior Jake Champagne led the scoring with 20 points. Luke Stoffan added six points, while Trey George, Nolan Mauser, Luke Diegel and Cayden Smith each scored five. In all, 12 players got on the board for the Wildcats.
Head coach Joseph Fedorinchik said team cohesiveness is one of the keys to the Wildcats’ this season.
“It’s a great group of boys. We have outstanding chemistry. We’ve got a really good culture. I feel like the kids really like each other, which is always makes things so much easier. I think you really notice that when the kids who don’t get the minutes the starters get, how excited everyone was when those kids hit some shots at the end of the game. It made me smile,” Fedorinchik said.
After losing three of the first four games of the season against Lake Orion, Rochester Adams and Birmingham Groves, the Wildcats are now 6-3 on the season,
“We struggled a little bit early on getting the ball in the hoop. But I think it’s getting better and better,” Fedorinchik said.
The winning streak began on Dec. 12 with a 43-40 victory over Rochester. Since then, the team has defeated Salem (68-65), Stoney Creek (50-36), Royal Oak (46-35) and Ferndale.
“Our calling card has been our defense. We play really solid on defense. Our kids really play tough. Most people who come and watch will say, ‘Man, your kids really play hard.’ I know we have our limitations. We’re not the biggest team in the world. But our kids really play their butts off,” Fedorinchik said. “Most of the kids on the floor can really guard anyone on the other team. We’ve really tried to use that as an advantage.”
The Wildcats hope to continue putting up wins and challenge for the OAA Blue division title. Oxford is currently 4-0 in the Blue. Last year, the team finished 14-10 overall.
“Our first goal is to have a winning record. We haven’t had back-to-back winning records in, I think it’s been 10 years or so. We want to establish that winning record first and foremost. The goal is to win our league,” Fedorinchik said.
Oxford will face tough opponents in their next three games against Pontiac, Avondale and Berkley.
“This will be a critical three-game stretch for us. We’ll see if we can kind of take control of this league early on,” Fedorinchik said.
Juniors Jake Champagne and Luke Stoffan and senior Gavin Nicks are the team captains this year.
“Jake’s one of the best scorers our school has ever seen. He’s already pushing 800 career total points. He’s averaging right around 20 points a game and about six rebounds,” Fedorinchik said. “(Luke) is kind of the catalyst for our team. Puts so much time into his game. He’s kind of the straw that stirs the drink for us. He runs the show. I have so much trust in him. I ask him to do a lot.”
Nicks is sidelined with an injury, but Fedorinchik hopes he can rejoin the team in February.
“He worked his tail off to get in the rotation and he was going to be in the rotation. Unfortunately, my heart aches for the kid,” Fedorinchik said.
Other starters for the Wildcats are junior Nolan Mauser, a three-sport athlete.
“He always guards the best player on the other team. That’s always his assignment. He didn’t play last year but I’m very blessed, very happy that he decided to come back and play. He’s been phenomenal defensively. He gives you everything he’s got,” Fedorinchik said.
The other starters are the Cady brothers, senior Jay Cady and junior Drew Cady.
“Both of those kids are four-sport varsity athletes, which is amazing. Drew leads us in rebounding. Jay is tougher than nails and can guard anyone one on the floor, whether their six-feet-five or five-eight. He is a perfect representation of our team this year. He just gives you everything he’s got,” Fedorinchik said.
The team’s next game was against Berkley on Tuesday after press time, but the Wildcats return to the court for a 7 p.m. home game Friday against Pontiac High School.