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A Crosstown Classic: a look at Oxford-Lafayette Round 2

When the Oxford girls stepped foot in the gym at Lafayette High on Dec. 14, they did so with heads held high and riding a nine-game winning streak. The Lady Chargers would lose to their crosstown rival by 20, the start of a rough tailspin for Oxford. Getting Lafayette at home on Tuesday night this time, the Oxford girls will be coming off an eight-game stretch where they are just 3-5, starting with the loss to Lafayette.

“We were able to keep the pressure on them the first time. We were able to get a lead but were never able to break away,” said Lafayette girls head coach Shayne Linzy. “Tonight will probably be a lot of the same. It’ll be at Oxford and they play really well at home. And we’ll have a bullseye on our back with us winning the first game. I expect a really good game tonight.”

For Oxford to get back on track Tuesday night, they’re going to have to find a way to slow down the Commodore trio of Azariah Buford, Mariah Holland and Kimaya Dixon. The last time the two schools met, three of the Lafayette starters combined for 42 of the school’s 48 points in the win.

“Two out of the three are generally going to have a good night scoring, and that makes us really tough,” Linzy said. “Our problems will come when two of the three have a bad night on the same day. We have to have some other girls step up.

One factor that could be a huge difference in round two is the presence of Ashley Epps for Oxford. The senior guard missed the first meeting between the two schools while resting an ankle injury sustained earlier in the week. It’s unlikely the presence of Epps would have made a 20-point swing in the game, but it may have been closer come the end.

From the boys side, this will be Oxford coach Drew Tyler’s 53rd Oxford-Lafayette game. You could say he knows what it takes to get the boys ready, but maybe not too amped up for the game. At 14-4, the Chargers aren’t playing their best basketball – since the start of the New Year, the team is just 2-2. But Oxford has been here. They beat Lafayette 67-45 in the first meeting back in December, and Tuesday night could be a critical means for the team to get back on track.

“I like the approach we took when we played mid-December at Lafayette. A lot of times who has the lead at halftime and the winner is the team that settles down the quickest and plays their game,” said Tyler. “Sometimes, when you’re coaching teenagers and they’re out there playing, they’ll forget the game plan that you’ll be working on all week.”

In the first meeting, four Chargers scored in double figures, led by Tykel Owens’ 19 points. Kylen Gillom led Lafayette with 10 points. Brad Gray described his Lafayette team as ‘inconsistent’ following the first matchup. The better word might be ‘streaky.’ The Oxford loss in December started a three-game losing streak followed by a three-game win streak. Now, Lafayette enters Tuesday night’s game on another three-game losing streak for a non-region game that means quite a bit more than the standard non-region matchup.

“They’re 5A, we’re 6A. So as far as classification as far as region, it has no importance at all,” Tyler said. “But we live in the same town. It’s a crosstown, rivalry game, so it has a lot of importance.”