Oak Ridge falls to Bella Vista in championship game

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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For the first time in three years Oak Ridge had to take second fiddle to a visiting team in its own Trojan Toss Up tournament after losing a 65-55 game to the visiting Bella Vista Broncos on Friday night in a packed gymnasium. Their final preseason tournament game had just three players who accounted for all Trojan scoring and 24 of those points came on free throws, a trend not overstated in the first half and final score. Points from the foul line were all but what kept Oak Ridge in the game, trailing 26-17 at halftime as the team made 11-of-12 free throws to its three field goals. The third quarter landed the Trojans behind double digits and the fast-paced nature of the fourth pinned both offenses in a race which consistently benefited Bella Vista’s defensive presence, outlet passing and transition buckets. Points were on sale in the fourth quarter and it was the only eight minutes in which the Trojans led in scoring 26-25, but favored Bella Vista’s ability to get up and down the court and passing to a number of offensive weapons. Though it comes as no surprise Bryce Scott led both teams in scoring, the Trojans struggled mightily to score. There was one assist by the entire Oak Ridge team and it belonged to sophomore Connor Sende. “We came out with a lot of energy tonight, but we just didn’t finish well. A lot of really little things didn’t go right,” said Scott. Size attributed for some of Bella Vista’s offensive rebounds and overall presence inside. Two 6-foot-6 big men were enough to thwart dribble penetration; KJ Logue, the tournament MVP, and Cristian Salhani, who had three blocks before Oak Ridge had a basket. “We had opportunities, but guys just missed them. That happens some nights, but if we had a little more contribution it would have been much closer of a game,” said Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott. “When a guy blocks your shot that’s the greatest thing he can do on the face of the earth, because all you have to do is fake and you get to the free throw line, but I think some guys were nervous inside and did everything except go hard to the rim.” Bella Vista had size, but the Trojans got to the hoop often only to miss layups. Coach Scott said the lack of rounded contributions from his team was in large part the difference, but was overall pleased with efforts put forth in the tournament as a whole. Matt Howard created his own trend shooting 6-for-10 and 3-of-5 free throws toward his overall 15 points. He also grabbed two of his team’s total five steals. Josh Simms completed his All-Tournament performance with nine points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from the stripe. Oak Ridge’s best defensive quarter was also its worst offensively. Bella Vista scored nine points in the second, but on the other end of the floor Oak Ridge scored three of its five points in the quarter on free throws and shot 1-of-14 from the field. Most of those attempts were Scott going to the basket. “My team relied on me a lot and I did miss plenty of shots I should have made. Some of tonight was needing to find better balance, but not making layups and just making smart decisions are little things we hope to have ready by the start of league. Our league is difficult, but we’re ready,” said Scott. Coach Scott reiterated his son’s words, saying the tournament championship game is probably not the best example for how his team will perform in the competitive Delta River League. He added overall contributions are worrisome in the loss, but likely will not carry over into other games. “We’ve got to sure some things up, of course, and if we do and guys step up and put in those little dink shots then we’ll be OK,” said coach Scott.