Oak Ridge pulls out thrilling win over Pleasant Grove, 58-51

By: Matt Long
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An 8-0 run over two minutes to start the fourth quarter provided Oak Ridge a cushion and a big bucket late in the game secured a 58-51 victory over Pleasant Grove on Thursday, as the Lady Trojans advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals on Wednesday. The Lady Trojans will face second-seeded Lincoln of Stockton at the University of the Pacific with the winner to play in the section title game on March 5. Win or lose Wednesday, both teams will advance to the Nor-Cal playoffs. Playing Pleasant Grove for the fourth time this season, Oak Ridge expected a dogfight and got one as the teams battled back-and-forth through the first three quarters. Leading 44-43 with eight minutes to play, Oak Ridge scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to take a 52-43 lead with six minutes to play. It was the most important stretch of the game. Kaitlyn Lendrum scored the first five points of the quarter, converting a three-point play to start and then, following a Dakota McLarnan steal and assist, dropping a 10’ jump shot to give the Lady Trojans a 49-43 lead. Haley Anderson followed by draining a three-pointer that extended the lead to nine. “It was almost a replay of the game we played at their place, except that our run was at the start of the fourth quarter instead of the third quarter,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. “We had some kids hit some big shots that maybe you don’t expect them to make. Some kids surprised me. Haley hasn’t taken a three-pointer in a long time and she buried it. I liked the fearlessness that they showed.” Pleasant Grove cut the lead to six with a basket and a free throw, but off an inbounds play Lendrum flashed to the hoop and scored her sixth and seventh points of the quarter, giving Oak Ridge momentum again with a 54-46 lead. The Eagles scored the next four points to cut the lead to four with two minutes to play. Fifty-one seconds later with the shot clock expiring, Jenna Klein stepped up and dropped a 16-footer in the cylinder to secure the win. Carly Bettencourt led Oak Ridge with 13 points, while Lendrum scored 11 and Anderson finished with 10. Dakota McLarnan scored eight, while Klein and Katie Hoisington both finished with seven. “It was a tough battle, and I’m proud of the way we hung tough on the boards,” White said. “We hit some clutch shots and had some good defensive performances.” Lendrum, with seven of her 11 points coming in the fourth quarter, played a key role in the win, even though she deflected the praise to the team. “It was definitely exciting to contribute,” Lendrum said. “I brought energy off the bench all season and a lot of teams don’t expect that, but tonight it was all about the team. Rebounding was the key. They out-rebounded us in the first half, but we improved on that in the second. It came down to who wanted it more and we definitely wanted it.”