OSCODA – It may have only been the first game of the season, but make no mistake, the Oscoda boys basketball team’s win at Rogers City on Wednesday, Feb. 10 was a big one. The Hurons hung around with the Owls for the better part of the night, before Oscoda dominated things down the stretch to earn a 50-29 North Star League Big Dipper victory.
“I am happy with how it went, Rogers City is a good team,” head coach Mike Poland said. “I think they are one of the top two teams in the conference. Them and Alcona will be right there chasing us. It is a tough place to play and a long bus ride for the first game of the year.”
Despite occurring this late in the winter, the contest was actually the Owls’ season opener, as they were awaiting for state officials to clear contact sports. While a normal season opens the first week of December, the Owls were certainly pleased to return to the court, even if it was more than two months later than expected.
“We are just happy to be playing basketball, for sure,” Poland said. “We are just trying to get better every day. This was a big conference win for us, we looked at this as a big game for us coming up here and we are just happy to get a win and will get back at it and just improve every day.”
The Hurons took an early 7-5 lead in the first quarter, but Drew Hess, making his Oscoda basketball debut, buried a three pointer for his first points that gave the Owls an 8-7 lead; a lead it would never relinquish.
Gavin Lueck followed that with a basket on a well-placed pass by Brennon Mills, and Caleb Nagel sent home a three pointer to make it a 13-7 lead after one.
Owen Franklin hit a three early in the second to make it 17-9, and Hess kept the hot hand behind the arc as well, hitting a trey from the left corner and another from NBA-range to put the Owls ahead 23-11.
The Hurons managed to hang around, trailing 26-18 at the half and pulled with 26-22 early in the third.
Oscoda reclaimed a double-digit lead at 36-25 thanks to a Mills transition basket from Hess, with Hess adding a pair of baskets in the closing moments of the quarter to make it 40-25 entering the fourth.
The Owls finished off the game with a 10-5 scoring edge in the fourth, where they were a perfect six-of-six from the line.
Poland wasn’t surprised that Rogers City put up the early fight in the contest.
“I always feel threatened because they are a good basketball team and (they have) a good coach, but I felt comfortable in that we were getting the shots that we wanted to, they just weren’t falling and we had a couple of untimely turnovers,” Poland said. “I think once we ramped up our defensive intensity a little bit in the third quarter, we were able to walk away from them.”
Hess led Oscoda with 19 points, Lueck added 10, Franklin netted nine, Nagel scored eight and Mills finished with four.
On Saturday, Oscoda picked up a non-league win at division one Alpena, 60-40.
Oscoda led 22-8 after the first and 29-18 at the half. The Owls used a 9-0 early in the third to claim a 39-21 lead and never looked back from there.
Hess notched 19 points, Franklin netted 13, Mills was good for 11, Lueck added 10, Michael Gepfrey netted five and Brendan Apsitis scored two.
Oscoda also played Friday at Midland Calvary Baptist, winning this non-league game 73-41. Franklin had a game-high 27 points in the win, Mills netted 18, Hess scored 17, Lueck added four, Hunter Gerow scored three and with two apiece was Cameron Fabyan and Brendan Apsitis.
Also of note in the contest was Oscoda senior Drew Hess surpassing the 1500 career point mark. Hess, who spent his first three seasons at Mio, has already made an impact on the undefeated Owls, averaging over 18 points a game and has shown plenty of ball-handling skills as the team’s point guard.
Oscoda (3-0 overall, 1-0 NSL Big Dipper) was at Alcona on Monday, hosts Rogers City tonight (Wednesday) plays at Tawas Area on Friday and travels to New Lothrup on Monday.