TAWAS CITY – Oscoda’s sixth straight win over Tawas Area turned out to be the biggest of the bunch. The Owls, playing on the Braves’ home court in a non-league boys basketball game Friday night, sprinted out of the gates to a 41-3 lead and never looked back as they celebrated a convincing 85-39 victory.
“I was really happy with our energy coming out and that was our focus,” head coach Mike Poland said. “I didn’t think we came out the last couple of games as intense as I wanted us to. We had a really good third quarter the other night against Rogers City, but I didn’t think we played very well the first 16 minutes. We just wanted to set the pace, play with intensity and really get after them on defense and get out in transition and we were really able to do that.”
Michael Gepfrey kicked things off for the Owls, as he buried a three pointer and hit a mid-range jumper to give Oscoda a quick 5-0 lead.
The Owls, who used their full court press to near perfection, caused eight first quarter turnovers, one of which was a steal and a fast-break lay-in by Owen Franklin, that made it 20-0.
Tawas did knock down a three the other way to trim that to 20-3, but Oscoda rolled to a 29-3 lead after one, when Franklin canned a three pointer just before the quarter buzzer.
Drew Hess and Franklin connected on early threes in the second, and Brennon Mills finished off a bucket in transition as the Owl’s opening run peaked at 41-3.
“We expected some type of zone from them, so we worked on that,” Poland said. “We worked on moving the ball and I thought we did a really good job of that against their 2-3 zone. Everybody just needed to do their job; we talked about the different options that we would have and give the kids credit, they shared the ball really well and shot the ball well in transition too.”
The Owls cooled off some, but still had three pointer from Franklin, who led all scorers with 27 points and Hess, who finished with 18, to make the lead 49-13 late in the half. A basket by Gepfrey near the rim made it 51-20 at the half.
A drive down the left baseline by Gavin Lueck and a Hess steal and fast break lay-in got the second half off to a strong start as well, with a 55-20 Owl lead.
Mills finished up the third with a bucket in transition to make it 68-30 entering the fourth and the running clock started seconds into the final frame with Gepfrey finished off a fast-break opportunity at 70-30.
Hess and Franklin added a three pointer each in the middle portion of the quarter, with Franklin’s coming from NBA-range to make it 81-36.
Oscoda finished up its scoring with a pair of free throws by Michael Wrona and a mid-range basket by Hunter Gerow.
The win gives the Owls six wins to start the season, and though they were favored to top the Braves, the fact that it was done so in such convincing fashion was a bit of a surprise.
“I don’t get a whole lot into who is favored or not, but I expected a good, tough basketball game,” Poland said. “I have a lot of respect for (Tawas head coach Todd) Kaems, I think he is a great coach. I was expecting a battle but I think we were fortunate maybe to set the tone early. Really, we are just trying to focus on getting better. In the first few games we were seeing glimpses of it and we are trying to get a little more consistent, for sure.”
Franklin and Hess each hit four threes to give them their 27 and 18 points, Mills, Gepfrey and Lueck all hit double digits with 14, 11 and 10 points respectively, while Wrona and Gerow added two each and Cameron Fabyan netted one.
On Wednesday, Feb. 17 the Owls picked up a home North Star League Big Dipper win over Rogers City, 81-49.
The Owls led just 30-24 at the half, but turned things up in the second half, where they outscored the Hurons 51-25.
“We turned up our defense in the third quarter and got in transition four a 31-point third quarter to break the game open,” Poland said.
Hess led the way with 24 points, Franklin netted 22, Gepfrey put in 12, Mills added nine, Brendan Apsitis chipped in with seven, Lueck netted three with Lewis Axline and Wrona adding two apiece.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16 the Owls earned another NSL Big Dipper win, this time taking care of host Alcona, 65-29.
The Owls led just 15-12 after the first quarter, but extended that margin to 33-13 by the half and 53-21 entering the fourth.
Lueck led the Owls with 17 points, Franklin put in 15, Gepfrey netted 13, Mills added eight, Hess put in seven, Wrona netted three and Apsitis chipped in with two.
Oscoda (6-0 overall, 3-0 NSL) played at New Lothrop on Monday, hosts Whittemore-Prescott on Thursday, pays a visit to W-P on Saturday and heads to Pinconning on Tuesday.
Entering Monday’s game, Franklin sits at 1220 career points, knocking on the door of Nik Alda’s program record 1260.