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Lady Trojans easily defeat Bella Vista in first-round playoff action

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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The Lady Trojans got off to a fast start in the opening round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs by handily defeating Bella Vista, 68-29.

Ali Bettencourt led Oak Ridge with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including five 3-pointers in advancing to the quarterfinals of the Division I girls’ bracket.

“I came to the gym early to start shooting and get my rhythm going and it just kind of carried over into the game,” said Bettencourt, who tallied 19 of her game-high total in the first half.

Oak Ridge (24-3) allowed 22 first-half points to the Lady Broncos before putting the defensive clamps on in the second half. Oak Ridge coach Steve White asked his girls to step up the defensive intensity in the final 16 minutes and they responded by yielding just seven total points on two field goals in the second half.

“Coming out in the second half, we wanted to just make sure that we did our jobs on defense and make sure that (Bella Vista) didn’t get anything easy,” said Bettencourt.

During the second quarter, Haley Anderson stepped in front of a Bella Vista pass for a steal that led to a Bettencourt three. That bucket would begin a stretch of 10 straight points from Bettencourt by herself. She finished the quarter with a third 3-pointer as time wound down before the half, giving her 13 points in the second quarter alone.

“(Ali) had a good second quarter. The team found her for a lot of open shots,” said White.

Bettencourt wasn’t the only Lady Trojan with a nice game. Oak Ridge received sparks from a number of role players, including Grace Derksen, Yumi Drossos and Sydney Stigerts. The trio contributed 13 of Oak Ridge’s 27 bench points, but it was their defensive energy, sacrifice for loose balls and inspiring hustle plays that impressed White.

“It’s the stuff that doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet that pleases coaches and teammates and gets the energy going. They were all pointed out in the postgame about their energy and hustle,” he said. “You look at us and you don’t see the most athletic or the tallest or fastest team so we’ve got to do things together. If we play team basketball, make the extra pass, help each other out defensively and be fundamentally sound, we’re much better.”

Oak Ridge, the No. 2 seed in the postseason and winner of 13 of its last 14 games, is scheduled for another home game Thursday against seventh-seeded Monterey Trail.