BY DAN STICKRADT
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — After graduating seven of its top 10 players from last season, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian has become a model of inconsistency on the basketball court this season.
The Lancers have some holes and deficiencies and are fighting for every win they can get this season.
Oakland Christian showed some more signs of life by winning in overtime Tuesday. The Lancers held on for a 44-41 MIAC Blue Division victory over host Birmingham Roeper at Roeper’s Bloomfield Hills Campus.
Oakland Christian outscored the Roughriders 7-4 in overtime to prevail.
After Roeper (5-6, 2-4) rallied to force overtime at 37-37, the Lancers picked up a three-pointer from John VanNoord to go ahead for good at 40-37. Oakland Christian finished 2-for-6 from the foul line and 2-for-4 from the floor in the extra session.
Junior forward D.J. Stevens picked off a long pass with two seconds remaining in overtime to seal the deal.
“We’ll take this win and we’ll take 6-5 at this point,” admitted Oakland Christian coach Dennis Hopkins, who picked up career varsity win 201 over 16 seasons between Oakland Christian and Clarkston Springfield Christian.
“We do have some holes to fill with only three players back and we don’t shoot the ball all that well for stretches,” continued Hopkins. “Against (Royal Oak) Shrine, we scored 27 points through the first three quarters and then scored 26 in the fourth quarter. We are not a consistent shooting team and we saw that again tonight. We go through stretches where we can score and times where we have a really difficult time scoring the basketball.”
Oakland Christian opened up with a 9-0 run, sinking a trio of three-pointers in a two-minute span. The Lancers had to settle for a 9-5 lead after the first quarter.
Roeper fought back with a 10-8 edge in the second frame to trail only 17-15 at the half.
In the third quarter, both teams scored 11 points, as the Lancers led 28-26 entering the fourth quarter.
Roeper tied the game three times in the fourth period and took its first lead at 41-40 with 4:03 left in overtime. That was the only time the Roughriders led in the contest — and Oakland Christian closed with a 4-0 run, all from the foul line.
“This is a good win for us because we learned how to win in overtime,” said Hopkins. “We are trying to find the right (chemistry) out there with a lot of new players this season. We are better than we were before the season started and we hope to be a lot better when March comes around.”
VanNoord finished 4-for-5 from beyond the three-point arc and finished with a team-high 14 points, four rebounds and three assists to lead Oakland Christian. Stevens added seven points, eight rebounds and five steals and junior point guard Drew Losee, a transfer from Lake Orion, added six points and four rebounds for the Lancers (6-5, 4-3), who shot only 15-for-47 from the floor and 8-for-17 from the free throw line.
“This was a game where we could have come back and one, but we kept throwing the ball away at the wrong times and we struggled to hit shots,” offered veteran Roeper coach Ernie Righetti. “We don’t have a lot of shooters and our point guard kept cramping up in the second half and overtime and he struggled.”
Garrett House, Roeper’s 6-foot-4 senior center, scored a game-high 24 points with 14 rebounds, also a game-high, to lead the Roughriders. He finished 11-for-16 from the floor and 2-for-3 from the foul line, but the rest of the team shot only 4-for-21 from the field overall.
“Garret played well. He was finishing, but the others couldn’t get shots to fall,” continued Righetti. “Neither team shot all that well and we had (20) turnovers. They just found a way to win.”
Roeper also made just one 3-pointerand shot 10-for-15 from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Abe Hashwi finished with 10 points, eight below his average to go with four assists. Senior guard Austin Farrow added five points and seven rebounds for the Roughriders, who were 15-for-37 from the floor on the night.
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