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Oak Ridge falters late, drop two games at tourney

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge found the going pretty tough at the Monterey Trail Tournament, losing two of three games to place fifth out of eight teams. The varsity boys’ basketball team, however, could have won all three games, but are in the process of learning how to win on a consistent basis, which is what the preseason is for. While coach Steve Scott was frustrated that his team didn’t win more than one game, he realizes it will take time to gain consistency and takes solace in the fact that his team is close to breaking through. Oak Ridge, 5-3, opened the tournament with a 59-56 loss to Burbank before beating Bear Creek, 60-52. In the final round, the Trojans fell to Foothill, 68-61. “We actually played pretty well,” Scott said. “We had the lead late in the fourth quarter of both games we lost and had a hard time closing games out. We played great for three quarters and then struggled in the fourth. We’re playing good teams, though, and we’re competitive in the games so that should help us learn and prepare us for the Delta River League season.” Oak Ridge led Burbank by two points entering the fourth quarter, but was outscored 12-7 in the final eight minutes. Bryce Scott scored 24 points in the loss, while Scott Sanchez scored 12. Matt Howard finished with nine. The Trojans defeated Bear Creek on Friday. Scott and Sanchez again led the way with 22 and 12 points, respectively. Grant Dean added nine, while Howard finished with eight. Oak Ridge trailed Foothill by one entering the third quarter and led by two late in the game, but let it slip away. “We were up by seven or eight late in the game, but we had some turnovers at inopportune times and that was our undoing,” Scott said. “We’re a young team and we’re going through a learning process. We’re spotty right now. I’m happy with how we played. They kids played hard and tried their best, but we just have to be mentally sharper.” Sanchez pumped in 20 points in the loss, while Scott finished with 16. Howard scored nine, while Josh Simms had eight. Sanchez was the team’s lone all-tournament selection. Oak Ridge opened the week by blasting Vista del Lago, 65-29. After an opening quarter that saw Oak Ridge gain a 20-5 advantage, the Trojans never looked back. Vista began in a zone defense but once Oak Ridge senior guard Bryce Scott hit a pair of three-pointers in the first period, they were quickly forced to switch to a man-to-man defense. The Trojan press gave the Eagles problems early on as they forced numerous turnovers that led to easy buckets. “We’re all about defense. That’s our measuring stick,” said Coach Scott. “It wasn’t just our first group, but our second group came in and did a nice job rotating. We got a lot of touches and a lot of steals. Once that happened, we were able to get out and run a little bit. We’re getting better and better.” Oak Ridge built its largest lead of the first half (23 points) with just under three minutes to go. Scott shot four-of-eight from the field for 12 of his game-high 19 points in the half. The Trojans forced Vista turnovers and limited their own. They did a good job of keeping the Eagles’ scorers from getting many good looks. Vista’s leading scorer from a year ago, Patrick Lowman, had eight points to lead the Eagles. Oak Ridge outshot the Eagles (53 percent to 28 percent) and didn’t allow a Vista bucket in the fourth quarter until the 2:54 mark. Following four solid days of practice, Oak Ridge plays host to Rodriguez on Friday before hitting the road to play St. Francis of Mountain View on Saturday. Nick Pecoraro contributed to this story.