February 08, 2012 - Oxford concluded the first half of Oakland Activities Association Gold division play in a tie for first place following victories over Hazel Park and Bloomfield Hills Andover this past week.
Led by senior Mark Hazelwood's 25 points, four steals and four assists and senior Michael Kitchner's 23 points and six steals, Oxford cruised to a 67-52 win over Hazel Park on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Senior Jacques Toussiant had seven points, four steals and six assists, while senior Zach Raisch had six points and seven rebounds. Despite the victory, varsity head coach Paul Marfia wasn't exactly thrilled with his team's performance.
"It was one of those games where there was a little bit of a lull," he said. "I felt Hazel Park outrebounded us, was hustling more than we were at times. We just lucked out that we ended up with nine three-pointers on the night to their five."
He also felt like the team's energy wasn't there, which he could tell by how ineffective their box out's were. "If we would have faced a taller, bigger team, we would have been in trouble," he said.
Marfia said the free-throw shooting swung in Oxford's favor.
On the night, the Wildcats were 14-17 from the line. Hazelwood went 5-7; Toussiant was 3-4 and Raisch was 4-4.
Hazel Park was 11-16 from the line.
It looked like the Wildcats were going to cruise to another easy victory when they traveled down to Andover High School Feb. 3.
After building a 54-43 lead entering the final quarter, Andover starting hitting three's from all over the court and trimmed Oxford's lead to one point, 61-60.
However, Oxford settled down and outscored Andover 11-7 down the stretch, winning 72-67.
"The composure set in. Our guards and our seniors really took care of the ball, didn't get careless with it and hit some open guys for some lay-ups and made some big free-throws towards the end," Marfia said.
Marfia said Andover wound up hitting six three's in the final quarter to keep the game close. "Sometimes that can be as emotionally devastating as a dunk when a guy hits a three-pointer from six feet behind the arc," Marfia said.
Andover finished the game with 11 three-pointers.
According to Marfia, Oxford came into the game with a size advantage, but at times played a quick, up-tempo style game that suited Andover just fine.
Hazelwood led Oxford with 25 points. Kitchner added 12 points, senior Javante Evans had 11 points and senior Ben Magdaleno had a career high nine points.
"He (Magdaleno) was a big spark off the bench for us, including going 4-4 from the free-throw line," Marfia said.
Up next for Oxford is a first place showdown with Birmingham Groves during the Winterfest game on Friday, Feb. 10.
Both teams enter the game with 4-1 record in the OAA Gold.
"Last time, we went into Groves...and lost 64-53," Marfia said.
He added he wasn't pleased with his team's execution, composure and maturity during their first meeting.
"We really got caught up in stuff we don't need to get caught up in. Hopefully we've grown and gotten more mentally tough and we'll find out on Friday," Marfia added. "We play a very good team...and hopefully we can how much we have matured and hopefully good things will happen."
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.