By Justin Haggerty
Reinhold and the Oakridge Eagles extended their West Michigan Conference winning streak to an incredible 64 games on Thursday with a convincing 55-33 over Whitehall.
The victory wrapped up the Eagles’ fourth perfect conference season in a row. Oakridge has not lost a league contest since December, 2012.
They Eagles are now 16-2 overall this season and 14-0 in conference play.
Reinhold, a standout guard, led the way with 21 points, including seven free throws on eight attempts.
“Nobody I’ve ever had (on the team) has gone through without losing a conference game, and now Hannah has 64 wins in a row,” said Oakridge Coach Terry DeJonge, whose team had already wrapped up the league title. “I don’t think she even won a middle school championship, so I think that really makes this sweet for her.”
Whitehall came into the game with a five-game winning streak and hopes of snapping the Eagles’ much longer streak.
The game was tied 12-12 after the first quarter, but Oakridge went on an 11-0 run in the second quarter to open up a comfortable lead and had a 26-17 advantage at halftime.
Whitehall was stung by 17 turnovers in the first half and 0-for-11 shooting in the third quarter. That left the Vikings with little hope for a comeback.
The Vikings scored 13 of their 33 points from the free throw line. Senior Julie Brown led the way for the Whitehall with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“We had a great first quarter, then [Oakridge] made some adjustments, and when a few things went wrong our confidence slipped,” said Whitehall Coach Derek Westerlund, whose team fell to 10-8 overall and 7-6 in the West Michigan Conference.
“We make a few bad decisions and it goes from a five-point (Oakridge) lead to an 11-point lead quickly. I think we can play with them, but it’s just in spurts right now. We just made way too many turnovers and weren’t good enough with the ball against a team like this.”
Reinhold and sophomore guard Sophia Wiard sealed the win for Oakridge down the stretch, combining for 17 points in the fourth quarter.
When it was over, the Eagles celebrated another perfect conference season by cutting down the nets.
While DeJonge was happy with the victory, he was less than thrilled with his team’s overall performance.
“I don’t think either team played great tonight,” said DeJonge, whose squad will wrap up the regular season on Tuesday against Grand Rapids Covenant Christian. “It was a really nice win, but I think both teams wished they would have played better.
“Right now it’s about getting a good practice, having a good weekend and getting ready for Covenant Christian, before we start district play.”
The future seems bright for Whitehall, which has six sophomores who gained important experience this season.
“It’s great playing against teams like (Oakridge), going against that pressure and seeing how they play,” Westerlund said. “Those Oakridge girls want the ball, and we’ve got to get to that point where our guards want to do that. It’s definitely a learning experience.”