ONEONTA – Eighteen games into the 2009-2010 season, you might say the version of the Oxford Blackhawks on display at the MAC basketball championship game was the new and improved version.
It was déjà vu all over again for the Blackhawks Saturday at Oneonta State Fieldhouse as Oxford defended its league championship with a 55-35 victory over Walton. The Warriors beat the Blackhawks by 19 points in the regular season meeting nearly two months ago, and this weekend’s scenario not unlike last year when Oxford avenged a regular season loss to Sidney en route to a 20-point title win.
“We knew after watching tape that they would probably come in here with confidence,” said Oxford senior Cory Seiler, who shared the team-high scoring honors with freshman Andrew Golden netting 15 points. “We got off to a good start, they came back, then we played lock-down defense.”
Part of Oxford’s strategy was to contain Walton’s big man Dan Gehl and teammate Steve Kaminsky. The Walton duo combined for over 30 points in the first meeting, but neither scored in the first half in this contest, and the duo combined for just eight points. “It was huge,” Oxford Coach Tim Davis said of his team’s defense. “We were following our defensive plan perfectly. Every time the ball was in the air, we wanted to put three guys on Gehl.”
Oxford also had the decided advantage in depth rotating 11 different players into the game during the first half, while the Warriors’ rotation was much tighter. In addition to the players on the team all season, Davis inserted junior varsity call-ups Golden, Justin Schray, Paul Wonka, and Caden Izard for key minutes.
“With the JV kids moved up, it gave me more bench and speed so we could counter what they were doing,” Davis said. “We were subbing guys in and out, and (Walton) really didn’t have the horses.”
Oxford junior Booker Davis was the recipient of excellent ball rotation in the first half. He hit two wide-open baseline shots, converted a three-point play, and had 11 points in the first two quarters lifting his club to a 21-15 advantage.
It was Golden and Seiler who carried much of the offensive load in the second half. Golden, who missed his first three shots, hit a three ball in the second quarter to kickstart his offensive game. In the second half, Golden made five of six shots – including two momentum-building three-pointers in the third quarter – as Oxford hiked its lead to nine entering the last stanza.
Over the final period, Seiler scored almost at will to more than double his three-quarter point total. Jeremy Nelson started the stanza with a back-door layup, Schray buried a three-pointer, and Seiler finished up the scoring as the game went from a somewhat tenuous nine-point advantage to a blowout.
Oxford’s new mix of varsity standouts and junior varsity players turned a pretty good Blackhawks club into a club to be reckoned with as the Section IV playoffs approach next week...