The start of any new season brings questions. Winning its own tournament to start the season at 2-0, the Oxford girls' team answered at least a few of those questions."When you're in a situation like we were when we graduated so many quality players, and are really a young team, you can't be too sure of things before getting those first games played," said Oxford coach Brian Urig.
"You can put in a ton of off-season time, and that always helps, but until you lace them up the first time in-season, with referees and a crowd, you really don't know for sure what you've got," said Urig.
With a balanced offensive attack and an aggressive defense that forced numerous Avon Grove (0-1) turnovers, the Oxford Hornets (1-0) cruised to a 45-31 victory in the season opener for both teams at the Oxford Tip-Off tourney on Friday night.
"It's always good to get the first win under your belt," said Urig.
Oxford jumped out quickly, scoring seven points before Avon Grove' Ali Herpen finally got the Devils on the board with a bucket near the end of the first period, but the Hornets' Becca Ruggear answered right back, pulling down an offensive board and making the put-back to put Oxford up 9-2 at the end of the first period.
Ruggear finished the night with a game high of 15-points, and added seven boards, a pair of blocked shots, and two steals to pace the Hornets. But Ruggear wasn't alone, as Jess Peters included a trey among her 11-points, and Erica Marvel added nine for Oxford.
"Obviously, Becca is our prominent returning player," said Urig. "We are going to rely on her to an extent. But it was good to see some other players stepping it up for us when we needed it. Jess Peters played a great game for us. She's a savvy player with a great knack for making the right pass or the right shot."
Avon Grove, behind Erica Weiler, who scored all six of her total points in the third period, played the Hornets even for the third period. But then things began to click for Oxford. Helped along by two steals from Peters, the Hornets took off on an 11-2 run that spanned the end of the third period and the early fourth. Oxford began making more transition baskets, and really got its offense going.
Before long, the Devils found the clock as big an enemy as the players in the white jerseys, and began to foul to manage the remaining time. But Oxford did what it needed to do, making seven of nine from the charity stripe in the final stanza, and pulled away for the 45-31 victory.
"We showed a nice balance tonight, and made our free throws all game," said Urig. "It's always a good thing when teams have more different things they have to defend."
Leading the way for Avon Grove was Herpern, the only Red Devil in double digits, with 12-points for the night.
It was more of the same for the Hornets in the Saturday championship against West Chester East-Ruggear led the way with 25-points, and got great support from her teammates. The combination resulted in another win, this time a 52-42 victory.
"We were consistent in getting our shots, just a little better in the first half than the second," said Urig. "52 points is a lot for us. Becca did a great job leading the offense, and did a good job around the basket. We got some good minutes from Michaela Rucci, who really ran the court well. Jasmine Johnson did a nice job for us off the bench. She made a few put-backs, and gave us quality sub minutes."
It's early, and anything can happen from here on out. But two wins in two tries gives reason for optimism.
"Definitely a good way to start," said Urig. "Hopefully we can build on this and see if we can get better every time out. If we can do that, we'll be the best we can be at the end of the year."
After suffering its first loss of the season at Henderson, the girls got back on the winning track with a win over defending league champ Great Valley. A Rucci buzzer-beater spelled the difference as the Hornets pulled out a 34-32 victory on the Patriots home court.
Oxford added another win on the road this past Saturday, top-ping Bishop Shanahan by a 36-31 score. Marvel led the way offensively with 13-points in the game, with Ruggear joining her in double figures with 12-points of her own. Rucci chipped in with seven.