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Lady Trojans rolling along with 17-2 record

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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There are a lot of factors that make a good team good and bad teams bad. Talent is the most obvious, but there are others like athleticism, smarts, work ethic and coaching. One characteristic of most good teams is consistency and Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ basketball team has been just that so far this season.

The Lady Trojans improved to 4-0 in the Delta River League and 17-2 overall with a pair of wins last week. Oak Ridge opened the week with a 58-54 overtime win against St. Francis and finished with a 56-37 win over Sheldon on Thursday.

“This group has been very consistent,” coach Steve White said. “We had some injuries early on and that gave some girls the opportunity to play versus tough competition. We’ve been sharing the ball offensively. I always tell the girls with if we have 10 girls score six points, that’s 60 points and that’s usually enough to win games. Everyone is contributing.”

Oak Ridge’s only game this week is at Ponderosa Thursday in the final game in the first round of league play. The Bruins are 1-3 in league and 12-9 overall and White expects a tough game.

“You can throw the records out,” White said. “They are a rival of ours and we’re not taking anything for granted. We’ve still got to go out there and execute. Games aren’t won on paper.”

In the win over Sheldon, Oak Ridge got off to a good start, leading 12-2 after the first quarter and by halftime were up by 17, 30-13. It was academic from there. Ali Bettencourt led the team with 15 points, while Shelby Peters and Haley Anderson added 11.

“The girls did a nice job focusing on defense,” White said. “I had told them that the intensity level wasn’t where it needs to be and they came out and played very well.”

The Lady Trojans were able to survive an overtime battle against St. Francis on Jan. 15, 58-54.

Anderson and Jenn Hoffman combined for 10 of Oak Ridge’s 12 overtime points to hold off the Troubadours, who out-rebounded the Lady Trojans, 38-23.

Oak Ridge held a three-point lead with just under a minute to play, when Susie Rogers hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 15 ticks left that knotted the game up at 47. Anderson’s driving attempt in the final seconds of regulation rimmed out and sent the game into the extra period.

Oak Ridge shot perfectly (4-for-4) in the overtime period, which included Hoffman’s consecutive driving lay-ins that put the Lady Trojans up by four with two minutes to go. Anderson’s runner in the lane, followed by a pair of free throws sealed the win for Oak Ridge.

“I thought we did a good job maintaining our composure,” said White. “St. Francis did a good job of executing their game plan. They had an answer for everything that we tried to throw at them. They were scoring on their (offensive) rebounds. They had a lot of second chance opportunities and we had a lot of one-and-done (possessions). When we’re not shooting the ball well, we have to find other ways. It was just two teams who really wanted it and it was just a good high school basketball game.”

In the third quarter, Bettencourt traded 3-pointers with St. Francis’ backcourt of Rogers and Rachel Frank — who scored 11 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime — that kept the game in a deadlock early in the second half. Oak Ridge would take a four-point lead into the fourth.

Anderson finished with 18 points and seven boards, which led Oak Ridge. Hoffman and Bettencourt chipped in 13 apiece while the Troubadours’ Najah Queenland, despite shooting just 2-for-18, collected 16 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in the losing effort.

“We hadn’t been in a lot of these situations before so we relied on a lot of leadership from everybody,” said Anderson, who tallied 14 of her 18 points in the second half. “Our shots weren’t falling so we told ourselves that rebounding was going to decide this game. We’ve always said that we’re not going to get beat in effort. So we made a choice to just play physical like we know how to do.”

Nick Pecoraro contributed to this story.