By Jason Goorman
EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – With an 80-game West Michigan Conference winning streak on the line, and their coach absent from the game, the Oakridge girls basketball team needed to find a spark against visiting Mason County Central on Friday night.
Despite struggling from the field through three quarters, and two first quarter fouls on star guard Sophia Wiard, the Eagles manged to pull out a 52-34 win against a promising MCC team.
Wiard was the difference-maker for Oakridge, finishing with 21 points. She did most her damage after getting her second foul with two minutes left to play in the first quarter.
“Without coach tonight, I had to step it up,” said Wiard, who sank four 3-pointers in the game. “Jenna (Lowry) is out with an ACL, so pulling this out like we did against them feels good.”
The Eagles leveraged 22 fourth quarter points to pull away from Mason County Central.
“They (MCC) were returning four starters, but our ability to gel in the fourth came through,” said Oakridge Assistant Coach Budda Cook, who sat in for Coach Terry DeJonge. “The winning streak is on our mind, but we are taking this season one game at a time and focusing on our growth. We’re just going to continue to battle every game.”
For most of the game, both teams struggled to find the hoop.
The Spartans led 13-8 after the first quarter, after getting six points from Maddy Bladzik and four from Nyah Tyron.
Tyron led MCC with 11 points while Maddy Bladzik scored eight.
Despite the early lead, Mason County Central’s offense went nearly silent for the next 16 minutes. The Spartans scored only one point in the second quarter and trailed 17-14 at halftime.
MCC’s offensive struggles continued after halftime, scoring just five points in the third quarter on 2 of 12 shooting.
On the flip side for Oakridge, Wiard scored seven third-quarter points to lead the Eagles to a 30-19 lead.
Oakridge turned on the jets in the fourth quarter, breaking MCC’s press for key fast break points while Wiard forced the Eagle offense into a patient half-court attack.
Six players scored for Oakridge in the fourth, led by Halle Jennings, who had six of her eight points in the fourth.
Brianna Pastor also came through for Oakridge with 10 points.