Lady Trojans suffer fourth quarter meltdown against St. Francis

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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In front of a raucous, capacity crowd at Oak Ridge High on Tuesday night, the Lady Trojans had vengeance on their minds in welcoming the unbeaten Delta River League leader St. Francis. Since losing their opening league game to St. Francis on Jan. 11, the Lady Trojans of Oak Ridge had won four straight conference games leading up to the rematch with the Troubadours. The Lady Trojans led somewhat comfortably, 49-42, after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, however, Oak Ridge came unglued, allowing St. Francis a 21-6 output in the final period, including a 19-2 run in the final 4:35 to shift the game and close the door on the Lady Trojans, 63-55. St. Francis (6-0 in league, 16-5 overall) took its first lead of the game with 1:30 remaining in the game and continued to pile on the points behind the hustle of Briana Charles and solid fourth quarter performances from Ellie Earley and Beth Balbierz. “We’ve been doing battle with (St. Francis) for the last five or six years at Arco Arena and now they’re in the same league as us,” said Oak Ridge coach Steve White. “Any time you go to battle against them, it’s either going to be a tough win or a tough loss. We’ve got to take care of the rest of our games and hopefully we’ll see them again.” It was a game of runs by both teams throughout the game. Senior Carly Bettencourt helped Oak Ridge get out to a 7-0 run to begin the second quarter with a three-pointer, followed by an assist to Katie Hoisington underneath and finishing up the run with a layup of her own to help the Lady Trojans go up 24-10. St. Francis made its own run to cut the Oak Ridge lead to 10 when Charles set up guard Nicole Lau for three before stealing the ensuing possession and driving down court for a bucket as time wound down in the half. “We slowed down a little bit and started going away from what was working for us. We weren’t playing to win, we were playing not to lose,” said sophomore forward Haley Anderson, who contributed four points, six rebounds and three steals for Oak Ridge. Dakota McLarnan led the Lady Trojans (4-2 in league, 14-9 overall) with 11 points while Jenna Klein and Hoisington had 10 and nine, respectively. Aside from the game, the Oak Ridge gym was jam-packed with pink-clad students, parents and fans in support of finding a cure for breast cancer. The Lady Trojans even sported pink uniforms to show their support for the cause. “It was really nice to see the fans come out and support not only the cause, but girls’ basketball in general,” White said of the cause surrounding the game. “I’m pleased. I have to really thank the parents for all their hard work. They did a fabulous job. They let me deal with the coaching while they put on this show and I can’t thank them enough.”