BY DAN STICKRADT
LAKE ORION — Tom Risi was asked a very valid question Friday: “What position does John McCarty play?”
It’s not a simple question, really, with a definite answer.
“He doesn’t really have a position. He can play all five positions on the floor. It changes all the time,” said Risi of his 6-foot-5, do-it-all, third-year starting junior. “He does so much out on the floor for us. It’s rare that a player is one of the tallest players on our team and one of our best ball-handlers.”
McCarty had a fine all-around contest Friday in helping host Lake Orion roll to a convincing, 60-21, victory over rebuilding Oxford in an OAA crossover boys basketball game.
A Division I recruit, McCarty finished with 10 points, dished out a game-high seven assists, snared six rebounds, swiped four passes and blocked a pair of shots for good measure in leading Lake Orion.
Chaz Miller, a 6-6 senior swingman, had 13 points, three blocks and three steals and senior guard Jeremy King scored a game-high 14 points for the Dragons, who sent 10 of 13 active players into the scoring column.
“In a lot of ways, we are better than last season,” said Risi. “We still have a lot of length and we do a good job using that to our advantage. We talked about John McCarty and Chaz Miller really coming together and playing together. If we are to have success, we need those two players to lead the way. I thought they were both on the same page tonight and we thrived because of that.”
Lake Orion, which made an unexpected Cinderella run to the Class A Elite Eight and won its first regional title in 87 years along the way last March, never trailed the Wildcats (1-1). In fact, the Dragons opened the game with a 17-0 run and never allowed Oxford a chance to make a comeback.
“They are a very experienced basketball team and we are really young,” noted Oxford coach Paul Marfia. “They have a lot of guys back from their team that made a long run. We can learn from their experience and the things they do on the court.”
Even without senior point guard Damonte Kruse, who did not play for undisclosed reasons, the Dragons committed only six turnovers as a team — far below its best mark of last season.
“That’s one thing we have really addressed since last season, and that is taking care of the basketball better than last year,” said Risi. “Last season we were such a Heckyl-and Hyde-type team. This year we have improved our ball-handling. We have three good point guard and even our big men can handle the ball better. We are better than last year.”
Lake Orion held a 22-7 lead at the half, going deep into its bench over the final three quarters. By the end of the third quarter, the Dragons were in complete control with a 46-13 advantage.
Oxford was paced by Mitchel Tilley, who finished 3-of-5 from long distance and dialed up nine points. The Wildcats were simply overmatched against Lake Orion after losing eight of its top 10 players and all five starters.
The Wildcats did not score until there was 7:16 left in the second quarter, when sophomore Connor Elzerman hit a base-line jumper. They never trimmed the deficit down to under 15 points the rest of the way.
“Right now we are just learning and I though Lake Orion made great plays,” said Mafia. “We are just trying to do the little things that will help us become a better basketball team. Whether that happens in January or February or March or even next year. It will come with experience.
“We only have two players back that played (significant) minutes. We have a long ways to go” added Marfia. “Hopefully we’ll take some things from this game and take it to the next game.”
Lake Orion finished the night shooting 26-for-57 from the floor (46 percent).Oxford made only 8-of-38 shots from the field (21.1 percent) and committed 25 turnovers.
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