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Oak Ridge upsets Lincoln, 48-41

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge didn’t let going on the road, playing a higher seed and facing a team that had already beaten them this season bother them. The sixth-seeded Lady Trojans upset Lincoln of Stockton 48-41 to advance to the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, where they will face No. 2 Armijo on Tuesday at the University of Pacific. The time of the game has yet to be determined. The game was sloppy from the start, as each team shot the ball poorly and when the teams weren’t scoring they were turning the ball over to one another. As the road team, that type of game played into Oak Ridge’s favor; as Lincoln never got on track offensively, save for a brief stretch in the third quarter when they managed to knock down three three-pointers after missing poorly on at least 10 attempts in the first half. Oak Ridge led 9-7 after the first quarter despite missing five free throws. By halftime the lead grew to five at 21-16. All 16 of Lincoln’s points came on layups or free throws, as they couldn’t buy a shot from the perimeter, though all the misses didn’t keep them from firing up the threes. In the third quarter Lincoln finally knocked down some shots and cut Oak Ridge’s lead to three, 31-28, with one quarter to play. After Lincoln cut the lead to one, 31-30, early in the fourth, Oak Ridge scored seven straight points to extend the lead to eight, as Jacki Bateman completed an and-one basket, followed by baskets from Klein and another by Bateman again. Lincoln got as close as three points at 40-37 with 4:31 to play, but Michelle Barkley made back-to-back buckets and the Lady Trojans made four free throws down the stretch, as Lincoln again went ice cold from the field. Oak Ridge outscored them 8-4 in the final four minutes of the game. Jenna Klein led Oak Ridge with 15 points, but despite not scoring a lot of points, the Lady Trojans did have good balance. Barkley finished with nine, including two big baskets in the fourth and Haley Anderson scored seven. Lauren Sende and Bateman scored five and Bateman’s baskets came during a key stretch in the final quarter. While Nikki Dow only scored three points, she gave the team perhaps what they needed the most in the second and third quarters, an emotional boost. “My role is mainly defense and energy,” Dow said. “I play with energy and get the team pumped up.” Oak Ridge coach Steve White was pleased with her contribution. “Nikki’s got the ability to spark us and in a couple of games this season she has really come in and done that. Jacki was also outstanding tonight and Michelle played well through an upper respiratory issue.” Come playoff time it doesn’t get much better than pulling an upset on the road and you could see that on the players and coaches faces after the game. “These games are fun,” White said. “I told the girls in pregame that I like them too much not to see them tomorrow in practice so I told them to go out and get it done.” Dow added, “It feels amazing to win this game. We played them earlier in the year so we avenged that loss and we were just ready to go. We want to keep winning for the seniors.” Oak Ridge has a stiff challenge coming Tuesday with Armijo. “They’re athletic and quick and will be all over the place,” White said. “They’re going to be similar to Lincoln except that they haven’t lost a key player.” Lincoln was playing without leading scorer Nyre Harris, who injured her knee and is out for the season. In Oak Ridge’s 39-37 loss to Lincoln on Dec. 9, Harris scored 25 of her team’s 39 points.