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Oscoda edges Alcona, claims third straight Big Dipper title

Courtesy Photo/Ben Murphy Alcona’s Rachel Layton puts up a shot over a pair of Oscoda defenders during a girls basketball game on Friday.

Even on a bit of an off night, the Oscoda girls basketball team found a way to get the job done on the road Friday.

The Lady Owls scored a season low in points, but still had the upper-hand against North Star League Big Dipper foe Alcona, claiming a 38-18 victory that clinches at least a share of the conference crown for the third year in a row.

“We did not play well offensively, but everybody kept fighting,” Oscoda coach Mark Toppi said. “(Senior guard) Macy Kellstrom finished with only five points and we were still able to win by 20, so that is pretty nice. A lot of girls stepped it up. Everyone chipped in and it was just a great team win.”

For the Lady Tigers (7-2 overall, 5-2 NSL Big Dipper), it was a frustrating evening as their offense could never find a rhythm, wasting a stellar night by their defense.

“If you had told me that we were going to hold Oscoda to under 40 points, I’m thinking that we were going to win that basketball game,” Alcona coach Mark Feldhiser said. “This is a couple games now where our offense has had some problems. We had a lot of good looks and a lot of good looks in the post, but we just couldn’t finish for one reason or another. When we made a mistake, Oscoda made us pay; they are a good basketball team. I can’t fault the kids’ effort though, they worked their butts off but it just didn’t work out for us.”

Oscoda (11-0, 6-0) came into the contest averaging 63 points a game. The Owls were clearly out of sorts early on however, as they missed a pair of point-blank shots in the paint and struggled to even find the rim on four early three pointers that were well-off the mark.

Oscoda finally broke its drought with 2:40 to go in the opening quarter, as Mia Whipkey spun through the lane and sent home a close-range jumper. With Alcona’s own offense struggling early on as well, this knotted the game at 2-2.

Feldhiser felt the opening minutes of the game were a missed opportunity for his team to take control. A running jumper by Lily Bilbey just over a minute into the contest gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead, but they failed to expand on that gap despite several chances.

Whipkey continued her early offensive spark, as she hit for nine points in the first quarter, including a three pointer moments before the period ended that lifted the Owls to an 11-7 lead.

The Tigers clawed back to within 11-9 on a Liz Henderson lay-up, but the Owls ended the quarter on a 12-4 run, highlighted by three pointers by Megan Myles and Izzy Hulverson to give themselves a 23-13 lead at the half.

“Our girls have confidence, and the good thing about that is we can make a lot of threes in stretches,” Toppi said. “Even if we get down, we know we have the ability to climb back into a game, so I was proud of them.”

Oscoda kept its lead at double digits the rest of the way, and all but clinched the win on a three pointer by Kellstrom from the left corner as time expired in the third, sending the Owls into the final frame with a 34-17 lead.

The Owls opted to milk minutes off the clock before each of their shots in the fourth quarter, as the teams crawled their way to the 38-18 final.

“I told the kids, I can’t fault their effort,” Feldhiser said. “There are going to be nights like this that you can’t score and it was just that simple, we didn’t put the ball in the hole.”

The Owls, who host Rogers City on Tuesday with a chance to win the league outright, were led by Hulverson who finished with 15 points, Whipkey netted 12, Kellstrom and Myles added five points apiece and Jessica Montgomery had one.

The Tigers, who have now lost to Oscoda eight straight times were led by Henderson with seven points, Carmen Dellar had four, Bilbey put in three and Rachel Layton and Kelsey Hansen had two points apiece.

Alcona looks to rebound when it heads to Onaway Monday.

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