Lady Trojans off to hot 7-0 start

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge is off to a 7-0 start and has a week of practice before hosting its annual Lady Trojan Toss-Up next week. The Lady Trojans are coming off a three-game sweep of the Oak Ridge Shoot-Out held Thursday through Saturday, defeating Burbank, Pleasant Grove and then St. Francis in the championship game. “I was hoping for a start like this but I didn’t envision it,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said about his team’s 7-0 start. “We’ve done better than I expected in terms of winning every game. There’s always room for improvement.” Oak Ridge defeated St. Francis on Saturday to win the Shoot-Out, winning 63-51 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates. The Lady Trojans played a stellar first half, working up a 41-23 lead at the break. Sara James scored 18 of her 25 points in the first half, while Megan Griswold added 15 of her career-high 23 points in the first 16 minutes. Griswold hit three of her team’s seven 3-pointers in the first half, while James connected on a pair. Natalie Stone and Dakota McLarnan also connected from long range. “I’m trying to be more offensive-minded and look for my shot when I can,” Griswold said. “They were doubling Sara and my teammates did a good job of finding the open man and a lot of the times that happened to be me and I was fortunate to hit my shots.” The team, however, didn’t play as crisply in the second half, scoring only nine points in the third quarter and not running the offense the way that White would have liked. Once on the offensive end, the team only made a pass or two before shooting and the shots weren’t falling. In between quarters, White read the team the riot act about running the offense the way it’s supposed to be run, telling them that if they make five or six passes someone will have a layup. “We have to learn from the mistakes we made this game and then it becomes a good game for us,” White said. “We just got a little spastic there in the third quarter. It’s just a matter of being smarter with the ball.” White said when his team plays the way they’re supposed to, they’re very good, but when they don’t, they’re just good. He said his team will have to be very good to go far in the playoffs. To be very good, the girls will have to pay attention to every detail during both practices and games and execute. James was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award, while Griswold made the all-tournament team, along with guard Natalie Stone. “Megan has confidence to take the outside shot, but at the same time she’s not forcing anything,” White said. “She can average six to 10 points for us, but has the ability to go higher like she did against St. Francis. “Natalie did a good job running the team and taking the ball to the basket, despite playing at less than 100 percent on an injured ankle. She’s used to being a little bit faster.” Oak Ridge is battling the injury bug. Besides Stone, Kelsi Danciart has yet to play because of a foot injury, while Carly Bettencourt hurt her right ankle early last week, which is at the least badly sprained and could even be broken. White hopes to get Danciart back by the Toss-Up Tournament, which will be held Monday through Wednesday. This week the team plans to have a couple hard days of practice, but will have some easier days as well because of finals week. “We’ve only had about 15 practices with this new offense, so the girls are still getting used to it and it’s just a matter of gaining confidence with it,” White said. “We need to show more patience when things aren’t going our way. This week we want to fix some things on offense and just improve defensively.”