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A winning return

Franklin, Owls top Alcona after long layoff

News Photo by James Andersen Oscoda’s Owen Franklin (14) drives to the basket past Alcona defenders Josh Kilbourn (30), Damion Stewart (42) and Aiden Wrobel during the second quarter of a boys basketball game on Thursday at Oscoda High School.

OSCODA — It’s been nearly a month since the Oscoda boys basketball team took the court for a game, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the Owls much.

They looked like they hadn’t missed a step on Thursday.

Owen Franklin scored 20 points and the Owls defeated Alcona 56-25 in a North Star League contest at Oscoda High School. The win gives the Owls (9-0, 4-0 North Star League) their ninth straight victory to begin the season and puts them in first place in the North Star League’s Big Dipper division.

Fatigue from the long winter break layoff showed early for both teams, but the Owls put on a show in the last three quarters of the contest. Oscoda’s offense seemed to score at will, making plays all over the floor and the Owls’ defense was just as solid, making all sorts of plays to keep Alcona off balance.

Oscoda coach Seth Alda praised his team’s defensive efforts, which he said were key to keeping Oscoda ahead, especially early in the game.

Oscoda led 7-4 after one quarter and 26-14 at halftime.

“I was more impressed with our defense because we haven’t played in three, almost four weeks I think,” Alda said. “After three or four weeks off, I thought we’d be struggling but our defense was phenomenal from the start. We’ve had 12 or 13 practices in a row, but in the first quarter, our shooting wasn’t good and our defense kept us in the game.”

Alcona (3-4, 3-1 NSL) stayed with Oscoda for a quarter, but the Tigers were cold from the field early and the problem worsened as the game went on. The Tigers were hounded in the paint and struggled to finish more than a handful of chances at the rim. From the outside Alcona didn’t fare much better.

Alcona trailed by just two late in the second quarter, but Oscoda caught fire in the final minute and a half to pull ahead to a double-digit lead that it kept building on the rest of the way.

“Break and layoff doesn’t help, but it kind of accentuated some of the things we’ve been doing all year,” Alcona coach Ryan Bilbey said. “We’re still having trouble executing our offense really. We weren’t in sync.”

Franklin, Oscoda’s sophomore star, seemed to make an impact whenever he was on the floor Thursday. He hit several key shots to keep Oscoda ahead in the second quarter and then put a stamp on it by draining a triple at the buzzer.

In the fourth quarter, Franklin opened the period by completing a three-point play after catching a behind-the-back pass from Devin Thomas. Midway through the quarter, Franklin came up big from the top of the key again, drilling an open shot after Brayden Mallak passed to him from the wing.

In addition to Franklin’s big night, Mallak had 12 points and Colin Lueck had six.

Damion Stewart led Alcona with 12 points and Antavius Mikazes added six.

A basket from Hunter Clark pulled Alcona to within two, 16-14, with 1:36 left in the second quarter. But in the remaining time, the Owls went on a 10-0 run to sway the game in their favor.

In the third quarter, another eight point swing by Oscoda left the Tigers even further behind and the Owls finished the game strong as well with an 18-5 run in the last seven minutes of the game.

Whether they were knocking down threes, driving the lane, working the baseline or just hitting short jumpers, there wasn’t much Oscoda couldn’t do Thursday and it proved too much for Alcona to keep up with.

“We have mental lapses, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes at a time and every game that’s showing up,” Bilbey said. “I’m hoping, it’s (just because it’s) the early part of the season and we’ll be a whole different team down the line.”

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BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free throws made/Free throws attempted/Total Points

OSCODA (56): C. Lueck 2 2-4 6; G. Lueck 2 0-0 4; B. Mallak 4 3-4 12; C. Kruse 2 0-0 4; O. Franklin 8 1-4 20; G. Kellstrom 2 0-0 5; J. Post 1 0-0 2; D. Thomas 1 0-0 3.

ALCONA (25): H. Clark 2 0-0 4; A. Mikazes 3 0-5 6; D. Stewart 4 0-1 10; P. Bilbey 2 0-2 5.