Berkley’s Noah Witus (3) drives the baseline past Oxford’s Griffin Ray (22) during the second quarter of the game played on Thursday Dec. 19, 2013 at Oxford High School. Berkley defeated Oxford 56-52. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Basketball - Boys
BOYS BASKETBALL: Berkley comes from behind to knock off Oxford in OAA Blue opener WITH TOUT VIDEOS
Troy Watson (42) of Berkley is trapped between Oxford’s Delxino Alexander (L) and Jordan Anderson (32) during the third quarter of the game played on Thursday Dec. 19, 2013 at Oxford High School. The Bears beat the Wildcats 56-52. (Special to the Oakland Press/SIDNEY SWART)
Berkley’s Eric Braun (10) moves around Oxford’s Amon Thomas (10) during the second quarter of the game played on Thursday Dec. 19, 2013 at Oxford High School. Berkley defeated Oxford 56-52. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Oxford’s Jordan Anderson (32) blocks the shot of Berkley’s Travis Hicks (21) during the third quarter of the game played on Thursday Dec. 19, 2013 at Oxford High School. The Bears beat the Wildcats 56-52. (Special to the Oakland Press/SIDNEY SWART)
OXFORD — The Berkley boys basketball team rode a 19-5 second-half run to overcome a double-digit deficit and earn a league-opening road win at Oxford, 56-52, Thursday.
The Bears’ Jonathan Radner scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bears build a six-point fourth-quarter lead after trailing by 10 early in the third to hang on and pick up a win in their OAA Blue opener.
Oxford built a big lead early before Berkley came back in a tight matchup, and the Bears improve to 2-2 and 1-0 on the young season to earn a big pre-holiday break victory.
“It’s great to start off with a win in your league play because you start off with an edge,” Berkley head coach David McGlown said. “We started getting active and we stopped giving up so many offensive rebounds.”
Berkley battled back with strong defense and good transition play to make it a tight game.
Oxford (0-3, 0-1), which did a great job of getting looks near the basket early in the game, had a tougher time finding open shots as Berkley locked down and converted a few transition opportunities to get back in it.
The Bears found themselves down 35-25 when Oxford’s Tyler Scott opened the second half with a triple, but after Noah Witus and James McKelvey hit four straight free throws to bring the Bears to within three, Radner earned his first bucket of the game on the layup to make it 37-36 and close the deficit to one.
After some free throws by both teams, Berkley’s Troy Watson registered a putback to even the score at 40 just before the horn sounded to end the third.
Radner scored the first four points to open the fourth, but just when it looked like the Wildcats would fall behind, Oxford fought back by hitting two free throws and then getting five straight from Connor Elzerman to take a 47-44 lead.
Berkley then answered by playing good defense and getting a three-pointer from Radner to tie the game, and then a couple transition layups by Radner upped Berkley’s lead to six.
Elzerman tripled to make it 53-50, but Berkley finished it from the line and earned the win.
“Oxford was playing great and getting those offensive rebounds,” McGlown said. “We had to buckle down and start boxing out.”
Radner’s play was key down the stretch, and McGlown said he expected his team captain and three-year varsity player to do exactly that.
Oxford refused to go away in the fourth quarter and received a balanced effort in the scoring column as several players contributed, which is to be expected from the Wildcats this season.
“I think we’re a team that on any given night, a player can give us 20 (or) 15,” Oxford head coach Stephan Henning said. “Our mental approach and our will to win has to be stronger.”
Oxford jumped out to a fast start, and was led by Delxino Alexander’s 16 points, as he scored in a variety of ways.
Alexander combined with Jordan Anderson and Paul Drohan to lead the Wildcats to a big second quarter in which they scored 20 points and led by seven at halftime.
The Wildcats will compete Thursday against West Bloomfield, while the Bears are off until Jan. 3 when they play Madison Heights Bishop Foley.
“We just made a couple more runs than they did,” McGlown said. “We just want to get a couple scrimmages in and stay sharp so we’ll be ready.”