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Oregon starts strong, finishes off much-needed win over Byron

Hawks clamp down on rival Tigers

OREGON – After starting the year 7-0 and even picking up a couple of votes in the initial 2A poll, the Oregon boys basketball team has gone into a tailspin, losing 10 of 13 games.

To compound matters, top defender Josh Sitze is out with a broken foot, and leading scorer Trey Woolsey is not yet 100% because of a sprained ankle suffered at Warren last week.

“We just don’t have enough bodies,” Oregon coach Quinn Virgil said. “Losing Josh really hurts because of the pressure he exerts out front on defense and his offensive rebounding. Until we get everyone back, we lack cohesiveness.”

Hoping to get a much-needed win in Big Northern play against 5-13 Byron, the Hawks did just that with a 57-28 blowout.

Ryker Finch got the team off to a 13-9 first-quarter lead with eight straight points. Riley Birnbaum really amped the crowd up with a 3-pointer to start the second quarter, and Oregon never looked back.

“What I saw out there was a lot a energy,” Virgil said. “If we continue to play like this, we’re going to be pretty good.”

Woolsey started for the Hawks, but struggled with erratic shooting
and out-of-control drives to the basket in the early going. He still finished with a game-high 21 points.

“I took a lot of stupid shots, but we still won. That’s what matters,” Woolsey said.

Virgil was just glad to have his star player on the court.

“He hasn’t picked up a basketball since Saturday,” Virgil said. “He’s a fast-paced guy who let the energy get the best of him, and he was out of control a few times. Trey will learn from this.”

Taking a 20-5 rebounding edge, the Hawks grabbed a 27-14 first-half lead.

“They’re a senior-heavy group and we’re junior-heavy,” Byron coach Matt Huels said. “When teams are physical with us, it’s tough to compete.”

Oregon only allowed one second-chance shot attempt the entire game by Byron, ending with a 37-14 board advantage. Virgil loved the defensive pressure just as much, forcing the Tigers into three turnovers and five missed shots at the beginning of the third quarter.

“We played really well on defense with moxie,” Virgil said. “When people went to the basket, we talked and helped out.”

Keshon Reed scored off his third takeaway and Eli Rufer add two straight scores in the third quarter, as Oregon increased the lead to 45-24.

“Keshon had great minutes for us off the bench. So did [Owen] Ketter,” Virgil said.

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