BOYS BASKETBALL: Sharpshooting Oxford rolls past Holly to earn district finals date with Clarkston

| March 8, 2018 | Comments (0)



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CLARKSTON — Oxford made sure it scheduled a date Friday with top-ranked Clarkston.

The youthful Wildcats finished 11-for-27 from three-point range Wednesday, including draining five of their first nine long distance dials, in building a 19-13 first-quarter lead. Oxford never looked back in routing Holly, 55-25, in a Class A district semifinal at Clarkston.

With the win, Oxford (8-13) will face defending state champion Clarkston Friday for the district championship.

“We’re normally a good three-point shooting team, but tonight we were exceptional, especially early on,” admitted Oxford coach Steve Laidlaw. “It seemed that for a while there we were making most of them.”

Oxford, which has played better basketball late in the season with a roster of mostly underclassmen, never trailed Holly (12-10). The Wildcats outscored the Bronchos 10-1 in the second quarter for a 29-14 halftime lead and blew the game wide open with a 17-6 run and a 46-20 advantage through three quarters of play.

Senior guard Nolan Harding, who missed 10 games with an injury this season, swished 7-of-14 three-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points for Oxford. Senior guard Jimmy Claudio added 10 points, five assists and four rebounds, sophomore forward Trey Townsend followed with eight points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, and junior forward Michael Raisch chipped in with five points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Wildcats. 

“Nolan has only played in around 10 games. Having him there makes a big difference,” said Laidlaw. “And we’re playing better. We’ve played a lot of teams close and we’ve beaten some teams later in the season. I’m pleased with how far we’ve come.”

Oxford finished 21-for-59 overall from the floor (35.6 percent). The Wildcats out-rebounded Holly, 42-32, to advance against nationally-ranked Clarkston.

“They are so well-coached. They have amazing talent. They are what they are,” added Laidlaw. “We’re excited to play them.”

Holly rallied back from an early 6-0 deficit and clawed to within 9-8 with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter. The bottom fell out after that point.

The Broncos lost senior guard Isaiah Franklin to a sprained ankle late in the first quarter and finished 0-for-13 from the floor in the second quarter.

Holly never recovered.

Leading scorer Noah Baylis, who was the Flint Metro League scoring champion with 18.9 points per game, was held to just four points on 1-of-18 shooting from the floor. Sophomore guard Hunter Jackson led Holly with eight points and six rebounds, while senior guard Andrew Spak finished with four points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Broncos.

“We’re a young team and it sure showed tonight,” said Holly coach Lance Baylis, who noted the Bronchos had six sophomores and two freshmen on their roster. “When we lost Isaiah to the ankle injury and when your leading scorer only makes one shot the whole night, you’re going to be in trouble. I don’t want to make an excuse. We had a snow day and we just came out flat. In every facet we were flat and they just took it to us.”

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