Oxford rallies for Pennysaver title

NORWICH – Oxford wanted to use its matchup with Greene Saturday night as a measuring stick. After four quarters of action, the Blackhawks definitely grew in stature and confidence.

“I think most people, including myself, picked Greene as the favorite in the Midstate Athletic Conference,” said Oxford coach Brad Aldrich. “I think this tells us we can play with the better teams in the area.”

One night after surviving a narrow win over Norwich, the Blackhawks overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter to win the 27th Annual Norwich Pennysaver Tournament, 50-42. It was the third Pennysaver title in five years for Oxford. “It was a great game and our kids played hard to the end,” said Trojans longtime coach Bill Case. “We’ll see how this (loss) affects us.”

The Trojans had plenty of chances to put the Blackhawks away early. Oxford struggled against Greene’s full-court pressure, and struggled even more on the defensive boards. The Trojans pulled down 18 offensive rebounds in the first half, yet could not shake the scrappy Blackhawks, who trailed by a 26-21 count at halftime.

Megan McDermott scored 11 of her game-high 16 points in the first half, and was perhaps the biggest thorn in Oxford’s side with several offensive rebounds. “We talked at halftime about our bigger kids doing a better job of boxing out,” Aldrich said. “We were able to do that, and our outside people also did a good job. It was a good team effort, and that kind of sparked our entire defense.”

Even though Oxford was rebounding better, it was not making a dent in the scoreboard. Despite leading scorer Barb Borst sitting the entire third quarter with foul trouble, Greene extended a five-point halftime lead to 38-28 with 2:54 left in the third quarter. Erin Smith hit a running jumper in the lane, Abigail Wentlent nailed a spot-up 18-footer, and Lizzy Buhl scored on an inside move to complete a 6-0 spurt and put Greene in command.

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