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Oscoda stamps Big Dipper title with rout over Alcona

Courtesy Photo/Ben Murphy Alcona’s Zach Stephenson puts up a shot as Oscoda’s Gavin Lueck defends during a boys basketball game on Thursday.

OSCODA–With the North Star League Big Dipper title already in hand, all the second-ranked Oscoda boys basketball team was missing was an exclamation point.

The Owls got that and then some Thursday, when they scored the first 17 points of the game against visiting Alcona, setting the tone for a 78-22 victory that capped off their league title with a perfect 6-0 record.

“It was important to us, we wanted to finish the league off undefeated,” Oscoda coach Mike Poland said of the team’s third straight NSL title. “We didn’t want to get upset and that is easy to do in a game like this when you have it clinched and you don’t really have a lot to gain, but you have a lot to lose. I thought the boys responded really well and came out really hard.”

For Alcona (5-4, 2-3 NSL), it was a bit of a humbling night. The Tigers struggled with the Oscoda full court press early on, and didn’t reach double digits offensively until the final moments of the third quarter.

“That is a very skilled team in their home gym, they hit shots early and it kind of deflated us and it was obviously a track meet after that,” Alcona coach Ryan Bilbey said. “I think my guys still tried to battle as best they could, especially the second half. We just tried to come out and do whatever we could and compete. You are going to have games like this and you are going to have situations in life like this where it just seems like a losing battle but you have to keep working at it. We didn’t play well, they played great and hats off to them on the league.”

This contest had all the makings for a classic trap game. In the midst of what many believe is their toughest portion of the schedule, the Owls (11-0 overall) won big at Pinconning on Tuesday and were playing Alcona a night before their highly anticipated meeting with Standish-Sterling.

Oscoda wasn’t falling for it however, as its’ defense caused 11 turnovers in the first quarter alone and its’ offense took turns finding the hot hand seemingly all night.

“We’ve been really good with our defensive pressure, especially in the last six games we are sharpening things up and we are really starting to see progress,” Poland said. “We are getting better every week and that is probably the most important thing; I can really see the difference.”

Owen Franklin hit a pair of early threes on his way to a game-high 20 points and Drew Hess buried one from deep as well for an early 11-0 lead. The Owls capped off their 17-0 game-opening run with a Michael Gepfrey steal and fast break lay-in the other way.

Zach Stephenson put the first points on the board for the Tigers, but the Owl onslaught continued as it led 36-2 at the end of the opening quarter and with just under four minutes to play in the second, Franklin launched a 25-footer that swished home for a jaw-dropping 49-3 lead and also ushered in the Oscoda bench.

“We wanted to come out and really set the intensity tonight,” Poland said. “We haven’t had a lot of let-downs, that is what we have been focusing on. Even in the games where we are heavily favored, they come out with a lot of intensity and I’m proud of that.”

With a 55-8 lead at the half, a running clocked melted away the time in the third and fourth quarters, though the Owls still managed a 65-8 lead, until a DJ Howe three near the end of the third made it 65-11 entering the fourth.

The Tigers had their best moments in the final eight minutes, scoring 11 points and capped off the game with a three pointer by David Sharboneau.

Colin Walker scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter to lead the Tiger offense, Hunter Rigby netted five, Howe, Sharboneau and Jacob Sytek had three points apiece and Stephenson finished with two.

“I think all the guys, especially the second half, they didn’t quit,” Bilbey said. “It wasn’t going their way but they kept hammering away at it the best they could.”

For the Owls, to go along with Franklin’s 20 points, Hess finished with 11, Caleb Nagel and Brendan Apsitis had nine apiece, Gavin Lueck and Gepfrey added eight each, Brennon Mills chipped in with six, Michael Wrona and Cameron Fabyan put in two points each and Hunter Gerow added one.

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