Local Sports Journal
Ben Rupert had the breakout game Montague coach Dave Osborne was looking for on Thursday night. The senior forward scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and led the Wildcats to a 75-72 victory over Oakridge.
The Wildcats withstood a hot shooting Brock Luttrull, who gave Oakirdge a 24-17 first-quarter lead and a 40-38 edge by halftime. Luttrull drained five 3-pointers in the first half, seven in the game, and finished with 23 points.
Either team could have won the back and forth battle and Oakridge had its chance to tie with 6 seconds left. But a missed 3-pointer and a Jake Buchberger rebound for Montague clinched the victory.
Buchberger came up big in the last 1.5 seconds as he missed both of his free throws, but grabbed his own rebound to run out the clock.
But the real story for Montague was Rupert. He shot 9-of-10 from the floor and also had a pair of assists.
“He’s (Rupert) been challenged all season to put that perfect game together and tonight he brought that energy,” said Osborne. “He’s really done a lot of good things and was finally able to bring it all together tonight.”
Montague trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, but chipped the deficit down off Rupert’s play around the basket.
“His energy and rebounding got us back in it. He kept balls alive that just wouldn’t have got to us. Ben Rupert kept us in this game,” said Osborne.
The Wildcats used a balanced offensive effort as five players scored in double figures.
Buchberger finished with 13 points, including four 3-pointers, and had five rebounds and three assists. Mike Meekhouf also scored 13 points for Montague.
Luke VanBoxel helped keep Montague focused as he scored 11 points and had six assists and two steals. Chase Lohman added 11 points and had five rebounds and four assists.
Oakridge shot over 50 percent from the floor and had a standout night by Austin Wright. The senior guard finished with 18 points.
“They were on fire,” said Osborne. “Lutrull just kept drilling 3s and they just did a good job executing their offense.”
Montague improves its record to 7-8 overall and 5-6 in the West Michigan Conference.