November 23, 2011 - Even split squads can't slow down the Oxford Middle School girls eighth grade basketball program.
Front Row: Sydney Hill (left) and Caitlyn Schmidt. Middle Row (from left): Ashley Lach, Tina Akers, Grace Wysocki, Christina Medici and Abby Butkiewicz. Back Row: Coach Tim Collins. Not pictured: Natalie Bryant. (click for larger version)
Coming off of a seventh grade season where they went 12-0, members of the eighth grade girls basketball team were split into two teams, blue and gold, this season in order to give girls more opportunities to play.
The Blue team, coached by Tom Wagner, finished 6-5-1.
The Gold team, coached by Tim Collins, finished first in their league with an 11-1 record.
Their lone loss of the season came to Pontiac Middle School on Monday, Oct. 10.
"It was a tough game for us. We went in there a little scared," he said.
However, the gold team beat Pontiac at home in their season finale on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
In addition to playing Pontiac, they also competed against Waldon Middle School, Scripps Middle School, Oakview Middle School, Clarkston Middle School and the Oxford Blue team.
According to Collins, the season went much better than expected.
"I guess there was a little bit of trepidation when we split the teams in half," he admitted. "We thought we would take a step back record wise, but I knew we would gain in future experiences for the kids as far as basketball and skills go."
This was the first time the eighth grade girls squad has been split into two different teams in middle school history, Collins explained.
"For our eighth graders, it was tough at first because they went undefeated last year and were used to playing with each other, and all of a sudden they were going to be split in half," he said.
Collins had four members from his undefeated seventh grade playing for him - Tina Akers, Abby Butkiewicz, Sydney Hill and Christina Medici.
His squad also included newcomers - Natalie Bryant, Ashley Lach and Caitlin Schmidt and transfer student Grace Wysocki.
"You are mixing in some of the kids from last year with new kids who haven't played basketball, so I thought my team did a great job working together with those new girls," Collins said.
Collins said the girls made coaching really easy for him from day one.
"All the girls had a great attitude...they were very coachable, which is huge in basketball," he said.
Collins feels the high school program is going to have a huge boost when these eighth graders step on the court in the following years.
"There is a lot of talent on the blue team as well," he said. "Once these kids come back together...I see nothing but positive things for Oxford girls basketball in the future. They are going to be a talented group when they (are) sophomores, juniors and seniors. Coach (Steve) Emert is going to be very lucky to have them."
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.