BOYS BASKETBALL: Oakland Christian digs deep to pull away from Pontiac Academy For Excellence | North Oakland Sports

BOYS BASKETBALL: Oakland Christian digs deep to pull away from Pontiac Academy For Excellence

| January 30, 2016 | Comments (0)



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AUBURN HILLS — Perhaps Auburn Hills Oakland Christian is starting to come of age.

Despite a playing rotation that features five sophomores in the 10-man rotation and the fact the Lancers were missing two key post players Friday — 6-foot-7 junior Brad Miller and 6-2 sophomore Hunter Washington — Oakland Christian displayed some grit and determination for their fourth win of the season.

The Lancers pulled away from visiting Pontiac Academy For Excellence for a 60-46 non-conference victory, showcasing that this team is maturing despite some growing pains and tough losses earlier in the season.

“We are slowly getting better. We had some losses where maybe we shouldn’t have,” said Oakland Christian coach Dennis Hopkins.

“We kind of closed this one out, which is nice,” continued Hopkins. “We still made mistakes, at times we went and did something we shouldn’t have instead of try to beat the press and spread it out and try to play. Once we calmed down some and started to run the ball screen we were able to get to the rim. And the three-pointers in the third quarter sure helped. That gave us some confidence and it opened up our ability to drive to the rim and get to the free throw line.”

While Eric Unger, Oakland County’s second-leading scorer at around 27 points a game, chipped in 36 points, the Lancers found plenty of help from the supporting cast to earn the win in the physical contest with the Eagles.

“We saw a lot of guys make key plays, especially in the second half,” said Hopkins. “We made some nice passes, made most of our free throws, did some nice things and we were able to pull away a bit. Kudos to our guys. It was a very physical game and we were down on the floor some. But we made some shots, showed some determination and kept our composure. When you have a young team like ours, that doesn’t always happen. I think we are starting to grow up a little bit.”

PAFE (6-4) trailed 15-9 after the end of the first quarter and used a 17-9 surge in the second frame to build a 26-24 lead at the half.

Oakland Christian (4-7) sunk three-pointers on five straight possessions to turn a 28-24 deficit early in the third stanza into a 39-32 advantage with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.

The lead ballooned to 45-34 with 21.5 ticks remaining in the period and the Eagles could never climb any than six points the rest of the way.

The Lancers sank 9-of-11 free throws in the fourth quarter to help them pull away.

Oakland Christian converted 45.3 percent (19-for-42) of it shots from the floor and converted 80 percent from the charity stripe (16-for-20).

PAFE was limited to 29.3 percent shooting (17-for-58) from the floor for the game.

The Eagles’ leading scorer, junior guard Joseph Newton, was held to five points and six rebounds in the loss. Senior forward Joshua Lyons scored 13 with 10 rebounds, senior guard Dejuan Eppenger added 11 points and five rebounds, while senior guard Michael Pena chipped in with eight points and four assists for Academy For Excellence.

“It was one of those nights. We just didn’t shoot very well,” admitted Academy For Excellence coach Donta Hamilton. “Our best shooter had a rough night and as a team we missed a lot of (close-range) shots. We rebounded well, but couldn’t make the shots.

“And we had a hard time guarding (Eric Unger),” he continued. “After every timeout I reminded them that we had to stay on him, but he still found ways to score. They had a couple of others guys makes threes that helped them pull away.”

A pair of technicals against PAFE for having players in the scorebook with the wrong jersey number led to four free throws and ensuing possessions for Oakland Christian in the second half, where the Lancers, who held a 36-20 edge over the final 16 minutes of play.

Sophomore guard Ryder Patterson added seven points, senior forward Thomas Washington scored six and sophomore Jack Jenkins dished out six assists in the win for Oakland Christian.

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Category: Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, Editor's Column, Featured Articles, High School, High School (M-Z), NOS reference, Pontiac Academy of Excellence, Prep Wraps, Sport, Top Stories, Uncategorized

About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR View author profile.

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