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Oak Ridge's season comes to an end at NorCal final

Carondelet comes from behind to win, 60-50
By: Matt Long
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At the end of the press conference following Oak Ridge’s 60-50 loss to Carondelet in the NorCal finals on Saturday at Arco Arena, coach Steve White said, “we’ll be back.” Oak Ridge junior Sara James was quick to add, very quietly as the press conference ended, “next year.” With only four seniors graduating, Oak Ridge will return three starters and six players from this season’s nine-player rotation. With James leading the way, making a run at the NorCal title next year certainly isn’t out of the question. But for now, the team will have to think of the heartbreaking 10-point loss on Saturday, a game they led 40-32 with three minutes to play in the third quarter, but then were outscored 28-10 in the final 11 minutes. “They picked up the intensity on defense, just found a different gear defensively,” White said. “We gave them some second and third chances and turned the ball over and that run is what did us in. “When you score it gives you more energy and that was the key (in the second half) too.” Oak Ridge led after the first quarter, 16-14 and then led the entire second quarter and almost all the third, but it was Carondelet who played the best when it mattered most and that was the fourth quarter. White dismissed the notion that his team may have been tired, saying, “we never talk about being tired unless we’re talking about the other team.” James’ 3-pointer with 3:02 to play in the third quarter put Oak Ridge up 40-32, but Carondelet finished the quarter outscoring Oak Ridge 11-2, the only bucket for the Lady Trojans coming from Carly Bettencourt with 18 seconds to play. Bettencourt’s basket cut the deficit to one, 43-42, with eight minutes to play. Oak Ridge stayed within one early, trailing 47-46 with 6:23 to play, but then didn’t score for five minutes as Carondelet scored eight points during the run to open up a 55-46 lead. James scored her final points of the game with a basket with 1:22 to play, and Kristina Williams followed with a bucket on an offensive rebound following a steal by Dakota McLarnan. That hoop made the score 55-50 with 1:12 to play, but Oak Ridge couldn’t get any closer and never scored again. James scored a game-high 28 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead Oak Ridge. Williams finished with 11 points, but the Lady Trojans desperately missed that third scorer in double figures. Their next highest scorer was Caitlin Welsch with five. “I’m proud of the girls,” White said after the game. “They battled throughout the year and overcame some adversity early in the season. This was probably my most enjoyable year of coaching.” James added, “I know we could have gotten to next Saturday and it’s sad that we didn’t, but we made school history this year and that’s a great accomplishment.” Williams concurred. “It’s cool that we got further than any other team in school history, but there’s still a chance for another team to get further. I’m proud of this team.” White summed up his feelings for his team as the press conference came to an end. “We’re proud to represent public schools and I’m proud what we do at Oak Ridge. We take whoever is in our boundary and we play hard and work together. We’ve set a tradition in how we do things and we’ll be back.”