OSCODA – It took a frantic comeback, some hot outside shooting and even a little blood to do it, but the Oscoda girls basketball team came away victorious on Saturday. The Lady Owls, hosting Alpena in a non-conference game, erased a 10-point deficit in the second half and claimed a hard-earend 61-57 victory.
“That was a good win for us,” head coach Mark Toppi said. “We were down nine at the half, but we talked at halftime and said let’s try to get it down to four or five points and then get the rest back in the fourth, and that is what we did.”
The Owls were behind 12-9 after the first quarter and 32-23 at the half and saw themselves down 38-28 two minutes into the third quarter, when Macy Kellstrom buried a three from the left side of the court to draw them within 38-31.
Alpena answered to reclaim a 48-38 lead late in the frame, but Izzy Hulverson sent home a 16-foot jumper and Kaylin Griggs sliced through the lane for a bucket to bull Oscoda within 48-42 entering the fourth.
Griggs kept the run going with the first bucket of the fourth, as she canned a three pointer from the left corner, making it 48-45.
Hulverson hit a pair of key three pointers and Kellstrom sent home a three of her own as the Owls surged ahead in the final minutes and survived Alpena’s own comeback efforts. Hulverson hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to salt away the victory.
“I think we played hard, we missed some easy ones in the first half that we normally would have made but we hid some (key threes) in the second half,” Toppi said. “I think we played aggressive from the opening tip to the very end with a limited amount of subs, so that was very impressive. This was a huge step for us.”
Toppi commended his seniors Hulverson and Kellstrom for their leadership in the game, and was especially impressed with Kellstrom playing in the final minute, despite an injury.
“Macy refused to lose, she had a bloody nose but didn’t want to come out of the game with a minute left,” he said. “We called a timeout so she didn’t have to come out and she put four masks on to get back out there. She was still bleeding, so she used some Kleenex (to plug it). She didn’t want to be out of the game for even one minute.”
Kellstrom hit four threes in the game and finished with 20 points, Hulverson connected on three treys and totaled 17 points, Griggs hit double figures with 10 points, Mia Whipkey added six points, Megan Myles added five and Olivia Toppi netted three.
On Thursday, Oscoda won a North Star League Big Dipper game in Mio, 56-19.
“We started off good there,” Toppi said. “We played hard and had some threes in that game too. We worked pretty good on our press. We have some stuff we tried to take care of there, but it wasn’t the most quality of opponent.”
Griggs led the way in this one with 11 points, Kellstrom netted eight, Hulverson finished with seven and Whipkey and Myles added five points apiece.
On Monday, Feb. 8 the Owls opened the season with a 52-41 home win over Posen in a North Star League crossover contest.
“It is always nice to start off with wins, but we always look at the quality of the opponent and the North Star League is getting weaker and weaker,” Toppi said. “We shot as bad as we possibly could against Posen, all seven girls can shoot the three pretty well too.”
The Owls had two first quarter threes by Jessica Montgomery and another trey by Myles, helping them claim a 22-8 lead after one. Oscoda cooled off some in the second but still led 29-20 at the half.
A three apiece by Montgomery and Griggs in the third helped Oscoda hold a 42-28 lead entering the fourth, where Griggs and Kellstrom were able to hit from deep.
Hulverson led the team with 14 points, Kellstrom finished with 12, Montgomery added 11, Griggs was good for six, Whipkey added five and Myles netted four.
Oscoda (3-0 overall, 1-0 NSL) hosted Alcona on Monday, hosts Tawas Area on Thursday, heads to Durand on Saturday and hosts Mio on Monday.