OSCODA – When you are as good as the Oscoda boys basketball team appears to be, you can occasionally get away with a less-than-perfect performance. The Owls did just that Thursday, as they picked up a 67-47 North Star League Big Dipper win at Alcona, despite playing what their coach admits wasn’t their best performance. 

“We were definitely happy with the win, though I didn’t think we played as intense on defense as we have early in the year and that translated to our rebounding and them outrebounding us 36-23,” head coach Mike Poland said. “I wasn’t happy about that but Alcona did a good job rebounding and I thought they played pretty hard and really pushed us.” 

The Owls held leads of 18-13 and 29-21 after the first two quarter breaks and were able to claim control of the contest by taking a 49-28 lead entering the fourth. Oscoda’s efforts were aided by its defense forcing 29 turnovers, which led directly to 30 points. 

“We had a really nice third quarter, we forced a lot of turnovers and outscored them 20-7,” Poland said. “We shot the ball pretty well, I just didn’t think our defensive intensity was great and our rebounding wasn’t where we needed it to be.” 

Leading the way in the win was Brayden Mallak with 20 points, six assists and five rebounds, Owen Franklin added 15 points, six rebounds and six steals, Gavin Lueck had 14 points and seven rebounds, Gabe Kellstrom netted eight points, Michael Gepfrey had five points, Devin Thomas netted three and Brendan Apsitas added two. 

On Monday, Jan. 6 the Owls pulled off a lopsided NSL Big Dipper win, 70-36 at Rogers City. 

“I was extremely happy with how the team came out,” Poland said. “Our defensive intensity was really incredible, even with a two hour bus ride coming off of Christmas break. Rogers City is not a bad team, but that’s just credit to our kids. We expect to compete at a high level.” 

Oscoda sprinted to a 22-6 lead after the first quarter and led 37-16 at the half and 51-28 entering the fourth. 

Franklin had a double-double with 22 points and 16 rebounds, Mallak had his hand on 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals, Kellstrom and Gepfrey had nine points each, Lueck netted six, Itsuto Mantani had four points and Caleb Nagel had three. 

Oscoda (5-0 overall, 4-0 NSL) hosted Hale on Monday, hosts Whittemore-Prescott on Thursday and stays at home on Monday to play Atlanta. 

“We are just tying to get better every day,” Poland said. “We have about seven weeks before the playoffs start and are just trying to just sharpen up and improve on our mistakes and weaknesses and so far we have been able to do that for the most part.”