By Dave Tomczak

EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – The Oakridge girls basketball team always finds a way to win conference games, even when there seems to be an invisible lid on the basket.

The Eagles missed their share of shots in the first quarter on Thursday, and had to settle for a five-point lead against visiting Hart at the first buzzer.

But the shots started to fall after that, and Oakridge cruised to a 66-33 victory over the Pirates to claim its 66th consecutive West Michigan Conference win.

Junior Sophia Wiard led the way with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Aaliyah Cooper added 16 points and three steals for Oakridge.

Oakridge’s Sophia Wiard leads the point. Photo/Leo Valdez

The Eagles improved to 3-1 overall this season and 2-0 in the conference.

“After that first quarter we worked together and played team basketball,” said Oakridge coach Terry DeJonge. “That’s what got us good looks, and we knocked down some shots.”

Both teams started off the game playing full court pressure defense, and both teams handled it well and got some open looks at the basket.

But they struggled to hit those shots, and Oakridge only led 11-6 at the first buzzer.

The Eagles settled down in the second quarter. Six different players had points for the hosts, who outscored Hart 16-6 to take a 27-12 halftime lead.

Hart played much better to start the second half. Senior forward Yasmin Colon scored 12 third-quarter points, yet Oakridge continued to add to its lead.

That’s because Wiard and Cooper combined for 17 points in the third quarter, giving the Eagles a comfortable 46-27 advantage going into the fourth.

The two girls finished with 40 of their team’s 66 points, including 26 in the second half.

“I think we had some nerves to start,” Wiard said. “We were anxious and we had to get comfortable against their 2-3 zone. But we came together and relaxed.”

“It was a really good game,” Cooper added. “Hart played good, and I was able to put up some points and help (Sophia) out.”

Gracie Reinhold and Kayla Fessenden each scored seven points for the Eagles.

Colon finished with 18 points for Hart while Nicole Rockwell pulled down eight rebounds.