February 01, 2012 - Coach Paul Marfia and his varsity boys basketball team find themselves squarely in the hunt for the Oakland Activities Association Gold division title following a 49-42 victory over Bloomfield Hills Lahser on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Defense was key to helping the Wildcats erase a five point first quarter deficit - Oxford forced 19 turnovers and held Lahser to 38 percent (17-45) shooting for the game.
Lahser was 9-3 overall and 2-0 in the OAA Gold before their loss to the Wildcats.
"We have to hang our hat on our defense, and when we play our team defense, we do a great job out there," Marfia said.
Oxford's defense held Lahser to four points in the second quarter, including two in the final five minutes.
Meanwhile, Oxford found their shooting touch. They scored 15 points in the second quarter after only managing six points during the first quarter.
Oxford led 21-15 at halftime.
It was the same story in the third as Oxford opened with a 13-4 run in the first 4:30, building a 34-19 lead.
From there, Lahser cut the lead to seven on numerous occassions in the fourth, but the Wildcats made 11-16 free-throws late in the game, sealing the win.
Senior Mark Hazelwood went 6-6 from the free-throw line while senior Jacques Toussiant was 4-6.
"That was big for us...and those are things you got to do," Marfia said about his team's clutch free-throw shooting.
Marfia was especially proud of how well the frontcourt played defense on Lahser's big man, 6'7 sophomore Yante Maten.
"He (Maten) has a great skill set, and I thought Zack Raisch and Jacques did a great job of getting him in early foul trouble...James Patrick didn't score a point for us, but his heart and hustle on the defense was tremendous. He and Nate Brubaker came in and just wore that kid down."
Both Patrick and Brubaker are approximately 7 inches shorter than Maten.
"They just did a great job of fronting him, and Zack Raisch and Alex Hesse did a phenominal job on the backside with the help out there," Marfia said.
In addition to the outstanding defense on Maten, Marfia noted Oxford also took four charges in the game - one which led to a technical foul.
Marfia said Oxford only took three charges the entire season last year.
Hazelwood led Oxford with 15 points while Toussiant had 14.
With the win, Oxford moves to 8-4 overall, 2-1 in the OAA Gold after winning six of their last seven games.
"Our goal is to make sure we control our destiny, and as long as we keep winning, we do that," Marfia said. "I think that is a very important thing for us to do."
Oxford battled Hazel Park at home on Tuesday, Jan. 31 before heading on the road to play Bloomfield Hills Andover Friday, Feb. 3.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.