Oakridge beats Shelby for 75th straight league win; Wiard hits 1,000 points

By Dave Tomczak
LocalSportsJournal.com

EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – Oakridge guard Sophia Wiard reached a milestone Thursday, and her team plowed its way through yet another conference challenge.

Host Oakridge never trailed against rival Shelby, and pulled away late in the game for a 61-43 West Michigan Conference victory.

The win gives the Eagles their 75th consecutive conference win. Their last conference loss was five years ago against Shelby.

But losing wasn’t in the cards for the Eagles on Thursday, thanks largely to the efforts of Wiard.

Sophia Wiard takes the jump shot as Torri Mussell tries to defend. Photo/Sherry Wahr

The junior guard scored 27 points, and with a free throw with 1:35 left in the game reached 1,000 points in her varsity career.

“It’s nice scoring 1,000, it’s always been a goal,” Wiard said. “But it’s not about that, it’s about the winning. Shelby’s our biggest game of the year, the win was the most important thing.”

Wiard had nine points in the opening quarter, when Oakridge used a 13-0 run to build a 18-9 lead after the buzzer.

Shelby’s Tori Mussell and Jenny Beckman combined for 11 of their team’s 15 points in the second quarter, and the Tigers pulled within 30-24 at halftime.

The Tigers narrowed that gap to five points in the third quarter, but the Eagles regained an eight-point edge, 42-34, headed into the fourth.

Neither team scored for the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter, then it was all Oakridge.

The Eagles outscored the Tigers 19-9 down the stretch. They made 10 of12 free throws in the final three minutes to put the victory on ice.

“The game was exactly what I thought it would be, a battle,” said Oakridge Coach Terry DeJonge.

DeJonge was obviously proud of Wiard and her milestone accomplishment.

“I think she’s the best point guard in Michigan,” the coach said. “She runs the show. Nothing bothers her, no matter the situation she’s in, she’s going to pull through.”

Wiard finished the game with eight rebounds, five steals and four assists. Gracie Reinhold added 12 points for Oakridge, which improved to 12-3 overall and 11-0 in the conference.

Mussell led Shelby with 17 points and 18 rebounds, while Beckman finished with 13 points. Shelby fell to 11-4 overall and 8-2 in WMC play.

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