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Sheriff and Runinkevich Power Berkley’s Impressive Victory

OXFORD, Mich. – High school sports teams across Michigan joined together in support of the Oxford High School community on Friday night. This week, t-shirts donning the signature “Oxford Strong” catchphrase were sold, with 80% of the proceeds going to benefit the victims of the tragedy that happened in November. Teams of all sports across the state donned the t-shirts for their warm-ups as another nod of support to the Wildcat community.

The Berkley Bears warm-up in their ‘Oxford Strong’ t-shirts prior to their matchup with the Oxford Wildcats on Friday, February 4. (PHOTO: Dylan Jespersen/Tunnel Vision Sports)

Oxford High School and its community was celebrating “Oxford Strong” night themselves, welcoming back their boy’s basketball program for their first home game of the season for a matchup with the Berkley Bears.

However, the Bears (11-2) stole the show. Led by Jacob Sheriff’s 20 points and Tamir Runinkevich’s 22 points, Berkley would outlast Oxford (6-6) 59-48, picking up win No. 11 on the season.

Berkley Dominates First Half

Berkley stormed out to a double-digit lead in the first half. Midway through the second quarter, Runinkevich knocked down back-to-back three-pointers, giving the Bears a double-digit lead while sparking an 8-2 run.

The Bears were also playing great defense in the first half, holding Oxford to just 9 points in the first quarter and 8 points in the second quarter. Whether it was forcing turnovers with a fullcourt press or playing sound defense in the halfcourt, Oxford’s offense failed to find any momentum through the first two quarters. Heading into halftime with a score of 32-17, Berkley held their largest lead at 15 points.

Oxford’s Offense Explodes in the Third, Can’t Complete Comeback

It was going to take an inspired effort to bring Oxford back from the double-digit halftime deficit, and that was exactly what they got in the third quarter. The offense came alive, going on a 13-4 run out of the break to bring their deficit down to single digits.

It wasn’t as much that the Wildcats’ shots started falling as much as it was their effort on the offensive glass. Multiple third-quarter possessions were kept alive by Bryce Esman and Logan Rozanski offensive rebounds, allowing Oxford to find much easier looks than they were finding out of their halfcourt sets.

Esman had 10 of his team-high 20 points in the third, helping trim the WIldcats deficit to just a single point late in the third quarter. Oxford outscored Berkley 22-11 in the quarter, bringing the game within one possession multiple times.

Still, Berkley was able to pull away in the fourth quarter thanks to the two guys that got them there, Sherriff and Runinkevich. With the Bears holding just a one-point lead with under three minutes remaining, Runinkevich scored back-to-back buckets, one on a pull-up mid-range jumper and another on a quick steal and score. The burst put the Bears up 5 points all of a sudden, forcing Oxford to play catch up the rest of the way.

Clutch defensive stops and clutch free-throws down the stretch from Sheriff eventually put the game out of reach as they pulled away for the double-digit win.

Oxford Welcomed Home

The Oxford Community welcomed their boys back home with open arms on Friday with a jam-packed gymnasium and a raucous environment. Not only was the student section packed, but most of the bleachers were full as well, along with dozens of people standing along the railing of the track above the gym.

During Oxford’s third-quarter run, the crowd was as loud as any high school crowd in the state on Friday.

There was no doubt that this community was happy to be home and cheering on their boys.

Oxford’s student section sings along to the music in between quarters at the Oxford vs. Berkley Boy’s Basketball game on Friday, February 4

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