Oak Ridge offense warms up, team takes two of three at Cosumnes Oaks tournament

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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For the second time in three tournaments this season, the Trojans won two-of-three games, as they improved their record to 6-4 on the season.
Competing in the Running with the Pack Tournament at Cosumnes Oaks High School, the Trojans rebounded from a 53-37 loss to Capital Christian Thursday with a pair of wins over Elk Grove, 54-33 and Cosumnes Oaks, 52-41 Friday and Saturday, respectively.
With back-to-back games of scoring 50 points, it appears the Trojans have turned the corner on the early-season scoring woes.
“The kids are starting to understand what we’re trying to do, but more importantly we’re just shooting the ball better,” Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott said. “We were up around 46 or 47 percent compared to 20 percent against Capital Christian. Defensively, we’ve been solid all-around. We’re just getting better and I’m happy about it.”
Scott said the team is playing with more confidence and more aggression, which has also helped on the offensive end of the floor.
Oak Ridge finished fifth in the tournament with the win Saturday over host Cosumnes Oaks. The Wolfpack scored 13 points in the first quarter, but scored no more than 11 in any of the remaining three quarters. Meanwhile, the Trojans scored at least 11 points in the remaining quarters, including an 18-8 advantage in the third quarter.
The Trojans had three players reach double figures with Grant Dean leading the way with 22 points. Bryan Bare finished with 11, while Josh Simms scored 10. Simms was Oak Ridge’s lone representative on the all-tournament team.
Against Elk Grove Friday, the Trojans played a strong defensive game and also was able to find some offense, scoring more than 50 points for just the third time in nine games.
Oak Ridge never trailed, as it had a consistent offensive output throughout the game, scoring 15 points in the first quarter followed by 13 in each of the remaining three quarters. Other than the second quarter when Elk Grove scored 13 points, the Herd didn’t reach double digits in any other quarter.
“For us to score 54 points is huge,” Scott said. “That’s quite an accomplishment for us, of late. “What I thought was the best thing was the way we played together and got the ball to open guys and we were able to stick some shots.”
On top of playing a good offensive game, Oak Ridge made it tough for Elk Grove to score, challenging everything. The Herd made a few perimeter shots and got some baskets by taking it to the hoop, but those were few and far between. The 33 points scored by the Herd is a number the Trojans are used to putting up this season.
Oak Ridge led 15-4 after the first quarter, allowing only two baskets in keeping the Herd off the scoreboard for the final 4:31 of the quarter.
Meanwhile, Dean scored the last five points of the quarter, including a three-pointer at the buzzer, as the Trojans took an 11-point lead into the second quarter instead of a six-point lead.
Elk Grove got within five points of Oak Ridge midway through the second, but another strong finish to the quarter by the Trojans where they outscored Elk Grove 11-5, put the Trojans out in front by 11 once again, 28-17.
Bare and Dean both scored four points in the quarter, while Simms added a three-point play. Bare and Simms played strong games all the way around for the Trojans.
“Those guys are workhorses for us,” Scott said. “They do it all. They’re on great stretch right now and they play hard and play well. We’re obviously a better team when they’re out on the floor.”
The Trojans broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Herd 13-8 to take a 16-point lead, 41-25, into the fourth quarter. Oak Ridge scored the last nine points of the quarter on a transition layup by Simms, two nifty drives to the basket by Brogan Cooper and a three-pointer by Matt Battaglia.
Oak Ridge pulled away further in the fourth quarter as six players scored.
Bare and Dean led the team with 12 points, while Simms added nine. 
While the Trojans lost to Capital Christian, Scott was happy with his team’s defensive play. Scott said if his team would have shot the ball a bit better, it would have been a much closer game.
Oak Ridge’s final game before Christmas is at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Del Campo.
“It’s a big game because we need as many wins as we can get if we want to make the playoffs,” Scott said.
On Dec. 27 the Trojans held to Florida for a tournament in Orlando.