OSCODA – Alcona was supposed to be the North Star League team that would give the Oscoda girls basketball problems. The Lady Owls showed those statements were quite overstated Friday night, as they used a big second half to play their way to a crucial 49-27 win.
“The girls were pretty excited (with the win),” head coach Mark Toppi said of the win that gives his team sole possession of first place in the Big Dipper. “Last year, we thought there was a little more balance in the league and if we did slip up and lose to them that someone else could beat them and we would still win the league. This year, we felt that we are the only ones that are going to beat them so we have to beat them twice because we don’t want to share them twice, we want to win it outright.”
Alcona actually led the entire first quarter, and though the Owls pulled ahead 21-18 by the half, it appeared as if the Tigers were going to make a game of it.
Oscoda came out of the break on fire on both sides of the hall however, outscoring Alcona 16-0 in the third to surge to a 37-18 lead.
Lauren Langley started the third off with a pair of free throws and followed that with a bucket in the paint that made it 25-18. A fast break hoop by Macy Kellstrom made it 27-18, and though Alcona called a timeout, it did little to slow down the Owls’ run.
A Kellstrom three late in the period pushed Oscoda’s lead to 35-18 and two more free throws by Langley made it 37-18.
Langley netted a bucket early in the fourth to make it 39-18 and though Alcona ended the run with a bucket moments later, the damage was done.
“I just think we had a lot of effort and we wanted it worse than they wanted it,” Toppi said. “Megan Myles had a great night defensively, causing all kinds of trouble on defense. All-around we had a great defensive effort and holding them scoreless in the second half until the fourth quarter was huge.”
Alcona started the game with a quick 4-0 lead, though a trey by Olivia Toppi close that gap to 4-3. Langley knocked down a contested close-range jumper that saw Oscoda down 8-5 and consecutive hoops by Izzy Hulverson helped close the gap to 10-9.
With a second to play in the period, and the Owls trailing 12-9, Kellstrom was fouled on a three point attempt. She managed to knock down two of the three ensuring shots, bringing Oscoda within 12-11 after one.
Toppi kicked off the second with a long two-pointer from the left corner to give Oscoda its’ first lead of the night at 13-12. The Owls would never surrender the lead either, as Kellstrom followed with an 18-footer to push the edge to 15-12. Jessica Montgomery had a three late in the half that made it a 19-14 Owl lead and Langley netted a bucket in the final minute to help Oscoda hold a 21-18 edge at the break.
“Olivia shot it better tonight than she has been shooting it and Izzy played real patent and took smart and good shots and didn’t force anything,” Toppi said. “Macy played good too and really, it was a great team win. Everyone on the team did something really good.”
Langley led the way with 18 points, Kellstrom put in 10 points, Hulverson finished with seven, Montgomery netted six, Toppi had five and Myles chipped in with three.
Oscoda also hosted Rogers City on Tuesday, Jan. 7, when it picked up a 50-26 victory in another Big Dipper battle.
The Owls got a pair of Hulverson baskets in the first quarter to take an 8-5 lead after one and Langley erupted for 12 points in the second to make it a 25-10 Owl lead at the half. Oscoda outscored the Lady Hurons 15-4 in the third and finished off the win with 10 more points in the fourth.
Langley led all scorers with 31 points, Kellstrom finished with nine points, Hulverson put in six points and Montgomery and Myles were able to add two apiece.