Oxford girls basketball downs Saltillo, clinches playoff berth
COLUMBUS — In an important Region 2-5A tournament game Thursday night against Saltillo, the Oxford Lady Chargers beat the Tigers 52-36. It was a comfortable win for Oxford, and early foul trouble for Saltillo helped make the road to victory a little bit easier.
Oxford clinched a playoff berth with the win and will travel for its first-round game Monday.
Oxford head coach Cliff Ormon believed getting inside and finishing in the paint was an important factor for the Chargers’ success.
“We wanted to go at them inside,” he said. “They were playing a tricky defense, so we wanted to take it, be aggressive and take good shots around the rim. We didn’t want to force it outside, and we were able to get some transition points that turned into some fouls.”
With some of the Saltillo players on the bench, Oxford was able to capitalize. Kelsey Wilborn scored 10 of her 18 points in the first half. Wilborn was able to draw fouls all game, keeping the momentum in favor of the Lady Chargers.
The second half was a different story with defense being the focus. Ormon believed that stopping Tiger guard Markeela Fisk, the primary Saltillo ballhandler, was the way to close out the game with an Oxford victory.
“In the second half, we wanted to make a more conscience to stop Fisk, and we did a great job there. Calicia Zenn hit two big 3s right out of the gate that extended our lead to 13. After that, we were able to hold on to the lead late in the game”
The Lady Chargers put together a fantastic all-around effort led by Wilborn in scoring and Jordan Freeze on defense. Freeze was able to grab seven rebounds and five steals and added eight first-half points that helped give the Chargers an early lead they would not give up.
Adding to the Lady Chargers’ dominance was Christina Owens. Owens was all over the glass, grabbing rebound after rebound. With Owens’ rebounding and ability to find open teammates for scores, it was easy for the Lady Chargers to take plenty of open shots.
The second half was a defensive clinic that was led by Freeze. Her defensive effort inspired the rest of the Chargers, helping hold the Tigers to less than 20 second-half points.
With no seniors on the team, Ormon praised his young team’s ability to step up and show poise in late-game situations.
“They have grown a lot,” Ormon said. “They have been put in situations all year where they had to make plays. This is a time where it is nice to see those players step up and score. Calicia Zenn’s two big baskets were the difference in this game.”