BY DAN STICKRADT
AUBURN HILLS — Sitting on the bench the past two seasons with injuries, Gavin Toma has chomped at the bits to play against a team the caliber of Auburn Hills Oakland Christian.
The senior guard had his chance Tuesday night and he delivered.
Toma scored seven of his team’s final nine points inside the final two minutes and hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:10 to play, in leading Southfield Christian to a key, 59-55, MIAC Blue Division road win over previously unbeaten Oakland Christian, the defending league champions.
“I saw the space and once they got to over to me I hit the shot,” said Toma of his go-ahead three-pointer.
“This is huge,” continued Toma. “We prepared so long for this game. We haven’t beaten them in I don’t know how many years.”
Southfield Christian used only six of its 15 players. Toma scored 17 with five rebounds and four assists to lead a balanced attack. Lyndsey Hunter IV added 16 points, four rebounds and three steals, Chris Debery scored 11 with five rebounds, and Lyndsey Hunter III had seven points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles, who defeated Oakland Christian for what is believed to be only the second time since the 1980s.
Toma stepped up with the game on the line, as he dished out two assists along with his clutch seven points in the fourth quarter. He was 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 31.4 seconds.
“He has stepped up big for us all season,” admitted first-year Southfield Christian coach Josh Baker, who was an assistant at Class A state powerhouse Romulus last season. “Against Belleville, he had 19 in the second half. And tonight he had bunch in the fourth quarter. “
Southfield Christian (5-0, 2-0) led 15-9 after the first quarter and 27-21 at the half, forcing the Lancers into 11 of their 17 turnovers in the first half.
Oakland Christian shot just 17-for-42 from the floor (40.5 percent) for the game and shot itself in the foot by making only 17-for-31 free throws (54.8 percent).
“(Missed) free throws. We were (17-for-31) from the foul line and missed a bunch down the stretch,” sighed Oakland Christian coach Dennis Hopkins. “We were up two going into the fourth and they outscored us by sixth in the fourth quarter. We missed a lot of free throws and had some missed opportunities where we could have extended the lead a little bit. Instead, they kind of got some momentum going.”
Oakland Christian held Southfield Christian to 20 points below its average and out-rebounded the smaller Eagles 32-28. The Lancers (5-1, 1-1) outscored Southfield Christian 19-11 in the third quarter top take a 40-38 advantage heading into the final frame.
Oakland Christian sophomore John Van Noord, who scored all nine of his points in the final 8:41, sank a trio of free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt with 4:39 to go which gave the Lancers their largest lead at 46-41.
Southfield Christian outscored Oakland Christian 19-9 after that point, including going 4-for-5 from the floor with two 3-pointers and 8-for-8 from the foul line down the stretch.
“The biggest thing for us is we found a way to win,” smiled Baker. “This was a tough environment. This team is very good, very well-coached. For us to get down and fall apart a little bit and still come back to win was huge for us.”
Nathan Piasecki scored 18 with eight rebounds for Oakland Christian. DJ Stevens supplied 10 points and eight rebounds and Charles Hayden scored 11 for the Lancers. Josh Peterson, Oakland’s 6-foot-7 senior center, was held in check with only two points and six rebounds.
“They did a nice job doubling us (on the inside) and not allowing the pass and we didn’t do a good job recognizing that,” said Hopkins. “We’ll have some time to go over film to see where he can correct some things and make changes for the next game.”
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