Dean, Sende lift Trojans over Rio Americano in overtime, 56-55By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
By all accounts, Oak Ridge High’s varsity boys’ basketball team was lucky to beat Rio Americano Friday night, but they’ll gladly take the win.
In the second round of the Trojan Toss-Up and coming off an opening-round loss to Pleasant Valley Thursday, Oak Ridge came away with a 56-55 overtime win after the Raiders failed on opportunities to win the game from the free throw line in regulation and in overtime.
The Trojans advanced to Saturday’s game for fifth place to be held at 5 p.m. against Shasta, who defeated Folsom, 54-47.
“I’m happy we won,” Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott said. “Losing last night was a disappointment so we’ll take the win tonight. Both teams had a chance to win tonight and we got it and I’ll take it.”
While the Raiders had the final chance to win the game at the end of regulation and overtime, the Trojans did come up with key baskets to tie and later take the lead. Connor Sende tied the game at 44 with a basket that bounced in with 2:23 to play in regulation, the first time Oak Ridge had a piece of the lead since the game was tied at 14.
Grant Dean’s two free throws with 27.8 seconds remaining put the Trojans in front by two, the team’s first lead since the first minute of the game, but Rio tied it up with a basket by Zach Suarez with 16 seconds remaining.
The Trojans gave Rio a chance to win the game in regulation with a foul by Matt Battaglia with 1.6 seconds remaining, but Rio’s Matt Lyon missed the front end of a one-and-one and the game went to overtime.
Dean stepped up in the extra session, scoring the first six of the Trojans’ 10 points. Twice Rio tied the score, first at 49 and later at 52. Sergio Quilici scored his only points of the game on an offensive rebound with 53 seconds remaining, but Rio took a 55-54 lead with a three-point play by Suarez with 36.2 seconds remaining.
Connor Sende scored the game-winning basket with a drive to the hoop with 20 seconds to go which put Oak Ridge up 56-55. Suarez then missed two free throws with less than a second remaining, which allowed the Trojans to hold on for the overtime win.
“Grant stepped up huge in overtime and we were fortunate to win, no doubt,” Scott said. “The game could have gone either way. It was a good game between even teams that both played hard. We were fortunate they missed their free throws.”