EAST NOTTINGHAM – For the second straight season, the Oxford girls’ basketball squad has earned a berth in the four-team Ches-Mont Championships this weekend. But the Hornets may be without top scorer Miranda Porretta.
The junior guard suffered a finger injury on her shooting hand late in the third quarter of Tuesday’s old fashioned fist fight against Ches-Mont American foe Unionville, who is also saddled with some key injuries. Oxford held on to edge the upset minded Indians, 30-28.
“I’m real proud of the girls. For us to persevere and get there two years in a row is big,” said Oxford head coach Brian Urig.
Now 7-2 (11-9 overall), the Hornets will wrap up the regular season on Thursday against first-place West Chester Rustin. Oxford will then play the unbeaten C-M National champs from West Chester Henderson on Saturday in the semifinals.
Porretta’s status for those games and beyond is unclear. She was on her way to get x-rays following Tuesday’s game.
“I reached for the ball and I thought I jammed it,” she said. “But I looked down and it was bent to the side. I knew immediately it was a problem.
“I’m hoping for a dislocation instead of a fracture so I can play on Saturday.”
Before the injury, Porretta buried the 100th 3-pointer of her career, which helped the Hornets score the first nine points of the second half and open a 24-11 lead. But just like in the first half, the Indians (3-6, 9-12) regrouped and made it a contest, thanks to a 10-1 run. And Unionville did it without its top two scorers: Grace Schrof (walking pneumonia) and Sam Ciccarelli (knee).
“I know we’re down and we have injuries, but everyone has that,” said Indians’ head coach Fred Ellzy. “Our future is pretty bright with the young group that we have.
“I told the young girls that this is their opportunity to step up and play hard – and they did that.”
When Alexia Brown scored on her own put-back, Unionville had sliced the margin to 26-23 with 40.1 seconds on the clock. Brown and four others also played in the junior varsity game due to the Indians’ injury situation.
“I give a ton of credit to Unionville for being down two players and playing so hard,” Urig said.
Without Porretta, Oxford turned to guard Madeline Williams, and the senior knocked down 5 of 6 from the free throw line in the final minute to close it out for the Hornets.
“When Miranda got hurt, we kind of went into survival mode, where we were trying to milk the clock a bit,” Urig explained.
“We knew we had to get this win to get to the final four,” Porretta added.
“This team fought to the end. Madeline (Williams) was able to knock down some clutch free throws to win it for us.”
Unionville also got off to a shaky start in the first half as it committed seven turnovers before scoring a point. But the Indians fought back to make it 15-11 at the half.
“That’s been our Achilles heel all season,” Ellzy said. “We start off slow and finish strong.”
Porretta finished with a game-high 15 points that featured five 3-pointers. In fact, six of Oxford’s eight field goals were from beyond the arc. And the team did not connect from the floor in the fourth quarter – but still managed to win.
“Oxford is a well-coached team and they shoot the ball well,” Ellzy said. “Trying to defend the 3-point shot and trying to protect the basket is very hard to do. We did it (Tuesday) – we just needed a few more points.”
Brown paced the Indians with 11 points and another junior varsity call-up – Anna Iacocca – chipped in 10.
“They are JV players who dress for varsity, but they got a lot of more time today than normal,” Ellzy said. “I am very proud of them.”
Williams added nine points for the Hornets, but nobody else had more than three points. That will, obviously, have to change if Oxford has to go into the postseason without Porretta.
“Hey, the Eagles just won the Super Bowl without Carson Wentz,” Urig pointed out. “Injuries are part of the game, so we just have to move on. Hopefully (Porretta’s) finger is fine, and a little tape and some ice and we’ll be ready.
“If not, we have plenty of time to get the next players to step up.”
Oxford 30, Unionville 28
UNIONVILLE – Baughan 1 0-0 3; Iacocca 4 1-2 10; Covert 1 2-2 4; Brown 5 1-2 11. Totals 11 4-6 28.
OXFORD – Williams 1 7-9 9; D’Aquanno 0 1-4 1; Porretta 5 0-0 15; Herrin 1 0-0 3; Hampshire 1 0-1 2. Totals 8 8-14 30.
Unionville 2 9 4 13 — 28
Oxford 9 6 9 6 — 30
Three-point goals: Baughan, Iacocca, Porretta 5, Herrin.
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