Oak Ridge faces Reno tonight in Toss-Up finale

By: Brett Ransford, Telegraph Correspondent
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The Oak Ridge varsity girls' basketball team will face Reno tonight at 8:30 p.m. to decide the champion of the Toss-Up Tournament. Oak Ridge advanced to the championship game with a 61-42 win over Bella Vista on Tuesday. Oak Ridge hit the ground running, scoring their first seven points before the Broncos scored. The Trojans grabbed nine rebounds in the first quarter, propelling them to a 16-4 first quarter stranglehold on the game. Scoring only four in the first quarter, seven in the second and six in the third, the Broncos faced the fourth quarter down 51-17. With two minutes left in the third Oak Ridge coach Steve White went to his bench only to see a 20-7 Bella Vista run turn into a 58-37 game. The powerful starting five for the Trojans assembled once again in the last two minutes of the fourth to assure the win. Statistically the game was a blowout. The Trojans took 27 rebounds (10 offensive), 15 assists and 13 steals. Breaking out in the first quarter they took six assists on five steals. Virtually every point of the Trojans’ game was executed with precision most of the game. They had their largest scoring quarter in the third with a 21-6 rout, following a combined first half score of 30-11. Singlehandedly guaranteeing that her team makes it to the championship game on their home turf was Sara James. Coming off of a 40-point game the day before, James hit 3 three-pointers in the third quarter. She finished with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals and an assist. She led the game in points knocking down 6 three-pointers against a stunned Bella Vista team. “I just wanted to do whatever it was that my team needed me to do,” said James. “In the first half they were denying me the ball the whole time so it was a lot tougher for me to get shots. I still managed some threes and the second half they switched up their defense and opened me up to get more layups and threes. In the championship we’re going to come out with the same intensity we always do and things will turn out as they should.” Without a strong supporting cast Oak Ridge would have been a one woman show. Easily the sixth man of the game and possibly the tournament so far is guard Carly Bettencourt. Off the bench she had 9 points, 4 assists. Dakota McLarnan also scored nine points, while Natalie Stone added seven and Megan Griswold scored six points to go along with five rebounds. Caitlin Welsch finished with only two points, but in the first quarter she grabbed all five of her rebounds (four of them offensive). “We came out in the first half and set the tone,” said White. “We kind of let them back in it in the fourth quarter. The girls did a good job and limited the number of points before halftime.” White is anticipating a tough match against Reno. “They have some good guard play and their post is really strong," White said. "It should be a very good game.” The championship game will have the Oak Ridge roster down one player from the win against Bella Vista. Lauren Adams left the game in the fourth quarter with a head injury. After the game she was escorted by White and team officials to the escort of an ambulance. She suffered a concussion is out indefinitely, according to White.