Oak Ridge falls to Kennedy in double OT, 62-58

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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The fact that it will go down in Sac-Joaquin Section championship history as one of the more exciting games played is no consolation to Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ basketball team. The Lady Trojans battled Kennedy to a second overtime at Power Balance Pavilion on Saturday before losing 62-58, ending their dream of winning a section championship. In 2003, Oak Ridge won the Division III championship game in double overtime against El Camino. Only one championship game has been longer and that was a quadruple overtime game in 1975. In the end Kennedy’s Lynette Johnson was too much for the Lady Trojans, as she scored 24 points, including six of the Cougars’ eight points in double overtime and an offensive rebound and putback at the buzzer of the first overtime that kept the Cougars alive. She also gave the Cougars the lead for good on a three-pointer with 1:06 to play in the second overtime, 60-58. “That step-back three was clutch,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. “I thought we defended it well, but it was a clutch play. She’s tough to guard.” Oak Ridge sophomore point guard Jenn Hoffman matched Johnson step-for-step, also finishing with 24 points, 18 coming on three-pointers. Hoffman hit four threes in the third quarter, including two back-to-back late in the quarter that pulled Oak Ridge from a two-point deficit to a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. At the end of regulation with her team trailing 49-47, Hoffman was fouled attempting a three-pointer with 5.1 seconds remaining. After her first shot rattled out, Hoffman calmly knocked down the next two shots to send the game into overtime. At the end of the first overtime, Oak Ridge trailed by one point with 20.4 seconds remaining and Jacki Bateman at the line for two shots. Bateman made her first free throw, but missed the second and Katie Hoisington tipped the rebound out of the key and Oak Ridge maintained possession. Hoffman followed with a 10-foot baseline jumper with 13.2 seconds remaining to give the Lady Trojans a 54-52 lead, only to be upstaged by Johnson’s late-second bucket to ruin Oak Ridge’s best chance to win the game. “If there was one-second less in the game at that point we would have been the team celebrating,” White said. “What can you say about Jenn, though? Give her credit for her mental focus. She’s been struggling with her shot for a couple of weeks and she’s been working with Coach (Annie) Lamy on it. We rode her back for quite awhile tonight.” The humble Hoffman deflected any credit to others. “Coach Lamy has been helping me with my shot and my teammates found me when I was open,” Hoffman said. “It was a fun game and we all played together, but we just didn’t come out on top. We can still do some damage at Nor-Cals.” While Oak Ridge lost the game in double-overtime, the consensus was they blew it earlier when they had the Cougars on the ropes. Oak Ridge led for nearly the entire game in regulation, but couldn’t pull away from the Cougars and put them away. The Lady Trojans led 20-10 with 1:50 to play in the first half, but by halftime their lead was only three, 22-19. With 3:54 to play in the third, Oak Ridge led by eight, 34-26, before the Cougars went on a 10-0 run to take a two-point lead. Finally, the Trojans led 47-40 with 3:12 to play in the game, but Kennedy drained three straight three-pointers to take a 49-47 lead. “We had a chance to take control early and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity,” White said. Jenna Klein, who along with Haley Anderson finished with 11 points, agreed with her coach. “We didn’t play as well as how we talked about playing,” Klein said. “We turned the ball over a lot (28 times) and we didn’t know where shooters were at times. Early on we could have played a lot better. It’s hard to think how close we were and how many chances we had to get it done and didn’t. At the end I was just thinking, ‘what just happened?’” The Lady Trojans’ season is not over. They will play a Northern California playoff game on Wednesday. “This game should give us a lot of motivation for Nor-Cals,” Klein said.