LAPEER, MI – Things may never return to normal for students at Oxford High School after the horrific mass shooting two weeks ago that left four dead and seven injured.
But for 32 minutes on Tuesday night, the women’s basketball team had a certain sense of normalcy playing their first game of the season.
No one would say the outcome of the game didn’t really matter. Oxford won 49-28. What mattered most was that the Wildcats players finally got to have a little fun after so many people at Oxford saw their lives turned upside down on November 30.
“He’s our number one on the board, always have fun and work hard,” said coach Rachel Bryer. “I don’t think this situation changed their minds. They are always going to do the same thing day in and day out. Introduce yourself, have fun and work hard.
“I think they wanted to get back… on the floor enough for them to let off steam tonight.” I am proud of them. Girls know that we love them and that we are a family. We care about them and everything they do on and off the pitch. I think it showed up tonight with their hearts and their efforts.
“Tonight was the game. Lapeer was very generous, offered whatever we needed and they did a great job honoring the girls tonight. Just a normal match.
Oxford demanded that the game be treated like any other without any mention of the tragedy and Lapeer agreed. A few fans wore “Oxford Strong” t-shirts and Lapeer had a banner hanging on the eastern wall of the gymnasium near the scoreboard.
It read “Lapeer Stands With Oxford” and had an O block with four hearts in the middle bearing the initials of the four students who were killed.
The banner did not go unnoticed by the Oxford players.
“It’s awesome,” said junior guard Miranda Wyniemko. “All the support is really helpful. You gain so much from it. It was very fun. Getting back into the rhythm of things is really what we need. We fought hard. We did not give up.
“We have work to do, but we are working hard. “
Among those present were the parents of Tate Myre, one of the four students killed in the shooting. Myre, who was playing soccer and wrestling, was killed while trying to disarm the suspected shooter. Another student killed was 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, who was a freshman in the girls’ basketball program.
Lapeer has not put up tickets for the game on sale, but has instead asked for donations which will go to the Oxford Relief Fund.
No coach likes to lose, but Lapeer’s Mike Butterfield admitted he has no fear of losing this game against Oxford.
“We spent some time this week talking about what we could do to make it the most normal situation and try to get them back to feeling better, maybe forgetting what happened for a few hours,” did he declare.
“A sense of normalcy is what we talked about. We tried to pretend it was another game. We knew it wasn’t. I thought it was a great night for their kids, their fans and their team.
Oxford took an 8-2 lead and never lagged after allowing the game’s first basket. The Wildcats were leading 29-12 at halftime and 41-18 going into the fourth quarter.
Ten players were in Oxford led by Wyniemko with 10 points. Allison Hufstedler added nine points and Nevaeh Wood added eight.
Four players scored four points each for Lapeer (1-3).
Oxford were playing their first game after canceling four more.
Before the varsity game, Oxford Junior University won 42-22. Tate Myre’s football number was 42.
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