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Lady Trojans one of favorites in Div. I playoffs

St. Mary's, Kennedy among the top teams
By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Having completed an exceptional regular season with a 23-3 record and locking up the No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ basketball team heads into Tuesday’s first-round playoff game against Bella Vista as one of the teams to beat.

In preparation for the playoffs, the team worked on several things last week in practice, not knowing what team they would play until Bella Vista (18-10) defeated Stagg Friday.

“We still continued to work on fundamentals with a little more scrimmaging against what I expect we’ll see in the playoffs,” Oak Ridge Coach Steve White said. “We still need more continuity on offense and we worked on our zone offense because I anticipate seeing zone defenses in the postseason. We also continued to work on our rebounding.”

If the Lady Trojans get by 15th-seeded Bella Vista, the team would play host to either seventh-seed Monterey Trail (19-8) or 10th-seed Lincoln (Stockton) (16-9). The winner of that game would likely face third-seeded Kennedy (21-5) in the semifinals at the University of the Pacific on Feb. 28. Top-seeded St. Mary’s, 25-2 on the year, is the favorite on the other side of the bracket.

“Our philosophy is to not overlook anyone, but if we were able to get to the semifinals, Kennedy would be a tough opponent and St. Mary’s on the other side is a powerhouse,” White said.

White praised his team last week for playing unselfish basketball, something they will need to continue to do in the postseason. Keys to success in the postseason, according to White, will be good shooting and rebounding, as well as being patient and not panicking while running the offense in the half-court.

Oak Ridge added some reinforcements for the playoffs, calling up four players from the junior varsity team: Isamar Conde, Jessica Maglietta, Lauren Gaddis and Saraya Smith.

Oak Ridge wrapped up the regular season Feb. 12 with a 68-31 over Ponderosa. The Lady Trojans dominated every quarter but the third, when the Bruins outscored them 9-8.

Celesta Vitolas led the team with 14 points, while Shelby Peters added 12.

Oak Ridge honored the team’s four seniors prior to the game on senior night: Jenna Ford, Haley Anderson, Nikki Dow and Lauren Liebert.