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Lady Trojans win Brea Olinda Tourney

By: Matt Long
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After two years of doing no better than splitting four games at the competitive Brea Olinda Classic in Southern California, Oak Ridge made a statement this year. The Lady Trojans, coming off a 30-4 season where they won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title and made it to the Northern California finals, started the season by winning the tournament. “We made a huge statement for Northern California basketball to go down there and beat Brea, the defending Division II state champions, on their home floor,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. “It was much like the win we had against Mitty last year. To beat Brea and also Summit, who I was told was ranked number five by the L.A. Times, was quite an accomplishment.” The Lady Trojans started the tournament with a pair of easy wins, beating Bishop Alemany, 82-55, behind 34 points from Sara James and then Narbonne, 61-42. James scored 19 in that win, while Alexa Pickett added 12. Then came host Brea in what was a big test for the Lady Trojans, and they passed with flying colors, winning 66-64. Oak Ridge controlled the game, taking a 51-36 lead into the fourth quarter before the defending state champs made their run. Natalie Stone hit a big 3-pointer that kept Oak Ridge in front, while Kristen Ramona hit five-of-six free throws down the stretch and Dakota McLarnen also made two to secure the win. Oak Ridge led 28-20 at halftime, but a big third quarter by Bettencourt, who scored 11 of her 17 points in the frame, boosted the team. James also scored eight points in the quarter. Brea outscored Oak Ridge by 13 in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough. James led the way with 22 points, while Bettencourt added 17 and Stone chipped in 10. In the championship game, Oak Ridge faced Summit and won 59-57. Bettencourt again played superbly, scoring 16 points, while Megan Griswold added 13. Caitlin Welsch, who fouled out against Brea, played all 32 minutes and scored 12 points, while James scored 11. The impressive thing about this win was that the team did it with only 11 points from James, who picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter with her team down by seven. The team, however, didn’t skip a beat. In fact, by the end of the quarter, Oak Ridge led by four, 47-43. Griswold and Bettencourt both had six points in the quarter, while Welsch scored four. “That’s a big confidence boost to the team that they know they can do it with Sara on the bench,” White said. “The fourth quarter went back and fourth, but Caitlin made a couple of baskets from Carly and we made just enough free throws to hang on.” James was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, while Bettencourt also made the all-tournament team. “Caitlin also played well those last two games, despite fouling out against Brea and Megan played very consistent and with a lot of confidence,” White said. It was a great start to the season. “In that last game we had four girls in double figures and when you have balanced scoring it’s harder to defend,” White said.