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Oak Ridge girls win Delta River League title at St. Francis

By: Nick Pecoraro Telegraph Correspondent
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The Oak Ridge girls’ basketball team officially wrapped up the Delta River League championship Tuesday night with a 50-38 victory on the road at St. Francis.

Haley Anderson and Ali Bettencourt combined for 35 of Oak Ridge’s 50 points, helping the Lady Trojans remain unbeaten (8-0) in league and secure its first league title since joining the Delta River League in 2010.

“We got a little unfinished business checked off with the league championship, but we still have more in the playoffs,” said Anderson.

In the latest CIF Sac Joaquin Section power rankings released on Monday, Oak Ridge was in the driver’s seat, ranking on top of the Division I format. Coach Steve White and company have two games remaining in the regular season and he expects his girls to remain focused and stay the course.

“Now it’s about playoff positioning. If we keep winning, we’re number one, if we drop a game, we’re not number one,” he said. “We have good leadership from this group so I don’t expect anything but good effort the rest of the way.”

Oak Ridge (21-3) trailed at halftime, 23-17, after a second quarter that saw five lead changes midway through the period. The Lady Trojans rebounded in the second half, outscoring St. Francis 17-4 in the third quarter behind some help from their bench.

Backup post Michelle Barkley was key late in the third quarter. She blocked a St. Francis shot, which led to Yumi Drossos draining a game-tying 3-pointer at the 2:45 mark. After Anderson’s spinning drive in the lane put Oak Ridge ahead, Barkley collected an offensive rebound and a lay-in to extend the Trojan lead. Barkley’s defensive rebound and outlet pass to Bettencourt — whose 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim three times before falling true — completed a 10-0 run for Oak Ridge at the close of the third quarter.

“Michelle came in and gave us some really good minutes inside with rebounding,” said White. “She’s been that physical presence; one of those power post players rather than the finesse post players. She’s been working hard at coming back from her injuries and we’re glad to have her back.”

A physical fourth quarter showed that Oak Ridge could be calm under pressure. Twelve of the Lady Trojans’ 16 fourth quarter points were converted from the free throw stripe, as they closed out the 12-point victory.

“We didn’t do so well in the first half, but we came out a little more loose in the second half,” said Anderson. “We knew it was getting a little chippy so we wanted to be more of the aggressors and try to drive to the basket since our shots weren’t falling.”

Anderson’s 20 points led Oak Ridge, while Bettencourt added 15 and six rebounds. Barkley added seven and six, respectively, off the bench. Najah Queenland led the Troubadours (13-10, 4-4 DRL) with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Oak Ridge wraps up the regular season at Sheldon on Friday before hosting arch rival Ponderosa on senior night next Tuesday.