December 21, 2011 - It was a spilt week for the varsity boys basketball team.
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the boys traveled over to Almont to battle the Raiders. When the game was over, the Wildcats walked away with a 72-52 victory.
After taking a 20-15 lead into the second quarter, Oxford blew the game open when they outscored the Raiders 22-10 in the second, putting the game out of reach.
"A lot of that goes to our half-court defense," Marfia said.
Senior Mike Kitchner led the Wildcats with 20 points and eight rebounds, while fellow seniors Mark Hazelwood had 13 points and Jacques Toussaint had 10 points and four assists.
Kitchner also hit three three-pointers.
Junior James Patrick, who made his first career varsity start, scored seven points.
Marfia noted 12 of 14 kids who played scored. "The biggest thing is we really had been disappointed in our defensive effort and execution against Lake Orion," Marfia said. "We made that a focus and they did a nice job of rotating and being in spots and lanes the way we need to having five guys playing defense all at once."
Even in the victory, Marfia gave credit to the Raiders for hitting threes. Almont finished 10-22 from three-point range.
On Thursday, Dec. 15, the Wildcats battled Imlay City, but fell short 64-60.
Both teams clamped down defensively in the first half with Imlay City holding a 22-19 lead entering halftime. However, both teams caught fire in the third quarter. Imlay City scored 32 points while Oxford scored 25.
"We just had some mental lapses. I don't know if it was because we didn't have (Senior) Zack (Raisch) out there, so we just had people in different positions, but we gave up six points on out-of-bounds plays," Marfia said.
Raisch went down due to a high ankle sprain in the second quarter.
Trailing by 10 with one minute left in the game, the Wildcats were able to trim the lead to four, but couldn't get any closer as they missed four free-throws in the final minute.
"We make our free-throws, we tie up the game and make up a 10 point deficit in one minute," he said.
Hazelwood led the Wildcats with 25 points, Kitchner had 16 points and four steals and Toussaint contributed six points, four assists, seven rebounds and zero turnovers.
"It was definitely tough for us," Marfia said. "We should have responded better, but we didn't."
The Wildcats were outrebounded for the first time this season 38-33. "They had a decided height advantage, but at the same time we had to do a better job of executing effort and boxing out," Marfia said.
He added in the two losses to Lake Orion and Imlay City, the Wildcats missed 28 free throws. They lost both those games by a grand total of eight points.
"Those are things we can correct and work on in the gym," he added.
Oxford traveled down to Troy Athens on Tuesday, Dec. 20. A complete recap will be in next week's edition of the Leader.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.