By Kevin Schrock
Winning at home has become somewhat of a cornerstone for the Oiler basketball program since Coach Charlie Ernst took over the program back in 2011. Last week the Oilers took strides in protecting that motto by defeating two top GLIAC teams, Saginaw Valley State and Hillsdale, at the Croy Physical Education Center.
Under Coach Ernst the Oilers have compiled an incredible 61-7 record at home through the last five years. On Thursday night the Cardinals from Saginaw Valley State threatened that record but the Oilers outlasted them for a 75-70 win. It was the first loss for the Cardinals in the GLIAC all year.
“When we recruit guys this is something we talk about,” said Ernst. “Then in the preseason we bring in alums and different guys and they all talk about having pride at home. These guys usually raise their level of play because they don’t want to be the group that lets down this team, our loyal fans, and also all of the guys that have played here.”
Still the Oilers faced another test at home on Saturday afternoon when Hillsdale came to visit with plans of ruining the Oilers perfect home record this season. It didn’t take long for the Chargers to realize exactly how tough it is to play in Findlay.
“It’s been a long time since a team came in here and opened the game with back to back dunks, but we answered both their dunks with threes,” said Ernst. “We’ve got some guys who are starting to shoot the ball with confidence.”
By the time five minutes had ticked off the clock the Chargers looked up at the scoreboard and found themselves down 19-6. Dylan Kaufman seemed to be the spark plug, totaling up seven points, five rebounds, and two assists in those first five minutes. Martyce Kimbrough also buried a pair of threes on his way to eight quick points.
The Chargers cut the Oiler lead down to seven by halftime at 35-28. A few minutes into the second half it got even closer at 40-36 before the Oilers, or maybe more specifically Kaufman, took back over. Through the next two and a half minutes the senior racked up three more rebounds, all on the offensive end, and eight more points to fuel a 15-1 Oiler run.
“I always pick a player of the game in the locker room with the team and today I didn’t need the stats to know that Dylan (Kaufman) was our player of the game,” said Ernst. “We missed some shots in the second half but he made those possessions last long enough until we did score.”
The Oilers never let the Chargers creep back into the game after that, winning by a final tally of 80-69. Kaufman ended with a season high 18 points while Kimbrough was right behind with 17. The more important stat for Kaufman though was his 12 rebounds, and specifically his eight offensive rebounds.
The Oilers as a team came away dominating the boards, 47 rebounds to Hillsdale’s 29. Those rebounds led to 28 second chance points for Findlay.
With the win the Oilers improve to 8-5 overall, and 5-3 in the conference. They will also look to improve on their still perfect 6-0 record at home on Thursday when Ohio Dominican comes to town.