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Oak Ridge girls hope for sweep against Sheldon, St. Francis

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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This might be the biggest week of the regular season for Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ basketball team. With games against Sheldon and St. Francis, Oak Ridge will be facing the team’s playing for second place in the Delta River League and playoff positioning in the upcoming postseason playoffs. On Tuesday the Lady Trojans (5-2) played host to Sheldon (4-3) and they play host to St. Francis (4-3) on Friday. “Right now it’s Pleasant Grove and everybody else so these are important games,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. “They’re both very good teams and each team presents matchup problems for us. We just need to focus on what we need to do. We’ve beaten Sheldon twice, but they’re problem the most improved team we’ve seen. St. Francis is a rival game and they’re a team we’ve been battling with for years.” On top of playing tough opponents, the Trojans also have injuries to deal with. Katie Hoisington has missed a couple weeks with a high ankle sprain, but hopes to play against Sheldon. Senior starting guard Kaitlyn Lendrum is out at least two weeks with a foot injury. White knows that someone will have to step up to fill the void. “The last time we play Sheldon Nikki (Dow) played a great game and answered the call,” White said. “Really, it’s a crap shoot for me because I have to find who’s got the hot hand. Against Sheldon Nikki got the job done.” Oak Ridge began last week with a 56-51 loss to Pleasant Grove. The Eagles have accounted for Oak Ridge’s only two league losses this year as well as snapping both of the Lady Trojans’ most recent winning streaks—one of four games and the latter of six. “(Pleasant Grove) has the pieces put together to make a deep run,” said White. “They’re long so they create matchup problems for us and they’re so athletic. I’m hoping we can recover and maybe see them somewhere down the road at a neutral site.” The Lady Eagles took a 32-19 lead into halftime as Oak Ridge shot just 22 percent from the floor and 1-of-10 from three in the first half. White challenged his squad to come out with a little more passion in the second half and Oak Ridge responded by cutting the lead to single-digits before the fourth quarter. Jenna Klein scored five straight points during a seven-point Oak Ridge run that brought the score to 43-39. The Lady Trojans then cut it to three when reserve Jackie Bateman drew a foul and—after air-balling her first attempt earlier in the third—calmly netted the ensuing two free throws to make it a one-possession game with 5:21 to go. It would be the closest that Oak Ridge would get to completing the comeback as Pleasant Grove seemed to have an answer for each Trojan basket. Avonna Lee and Dejza James combined for 32 points and 16 boards, giving Oak Ridge trouble with second-chance buckets and a nice high-low interior attack. “We just didn’t do our jobs on the boards. You’re not going to beat good teams when you give them second or third chances,” said White. “We didn’t really come out and set the tempo that we had planned to,” said Klein, who scored 11 of her 14 points in the second half. “It’s been a rivalry since last year and they’re always gunning for us. We just have to put four quarters together. You can’t beat a good team by just playing two or three.” Haley Anderson had nine points to go with 11 rebounds and Lauren Sende tallied eight points with eight boards for the Lady Trojans. “Everything’s a playoff game for us now,” he said. “This next week is a killer week. We control our seeding for the playoffs; we just have to take care of business.” Oak Ridge ended the week with a 50-30 win over Folsom. With Hoisington and Lendrum out of the lineup, the Lady Trojans struggled to take care of the ball at times and were far from fluid in their offense, but got off to a good start and were able to build enough of a lead where the outcome was never in doubt, despite their erratic play. “Give Folsom credit, they played hard,” White said. “We got off to a good start, but then didn’t take care of the ball in the second quarter. We had some players out and had new rotations and struggled a bit with that. It’s something that we’re going to have to improve on.” Oak Ridge quickly built up a double-digit lead in the first quarter, as they converted multiple Folsom turnovers into points. Leading 8-3, Oak Ridge scored the final seven points of the quarter, while Folsom committed six of their 24 turnovers of the game. Christy Bolton nailed a three-pointer early in the second quarter to jump start the Lady Bulldogs. Kate Whitney followed with a pair of baskets, Jenny Hackelman drained a three and Alex Washington’s bucket made the score 23-15 late in the half. The Lady Trojans came out strong in the third quarter to finish off Folsom, outscoring them 14-7 to take control of the game on their way to a 20-point win. Klein led Oak Ridge with 10 points, while Michelle Barkley had nine.