Pretty in pink

Oak Ridge looking good at 4-1 in league
By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge faced the top three teams in the Delta River League, Pleasant Grove, St. Francis and Sheldon on the road in the first half of league and won two of them. Now with the second half under way, the team is not only playing better, but also have their toughest opponents on their home court. Yesterday the team faced Pleasant Grove, the only league opponent to beat them in the first round, 56-42. Junior forward Haley Anderson is hoping the team picked up a win this time around. “Their fans helped them when we played there, so I’m hoping our fans will help us this time,” Anderson said. “Rebounding will also be a key. They scored a lot of second-chance points against us last time so we need to rebound a lot better.” Oak Ridge coach Steve White added, “We’ve got to put 32 minutes together. If and when we have our slow moments, they’ve got to be in short spurts. You can’t go a quarter of not playing well and expect to beat a team like that. We have to bring our ‘A’ game.” Luckily for the Lady Trojans, though, the team enters the second half of league play on a bit of a roll. The teams has won six straight games since losing to the Eagles and have improved their play over the last three weeks. “I feel as though we’re playing better than we were at the beginning of league,” White said. “We were kind of in a funk offensively, but we’re more relaxed now and I think we’re coming around.” Anderson said one reason for the team’s improved play is rebounding. “We’ve put a lot of emphasis on rebounding and made that a focus and that has helped us improve our offense,” Anderson said. “We’re playing more as a team and are more relaxed. It’s more natural to us now.” Oak Ridge wrapped up the first half with a 63-38 win over Ponderosa on Thursday night. The Lady Trojans jumped out to a 12-3 lead on the Bruins and never looked back. Jenna Klein had a great night all around, leading the way with 19 points, including scoring six of the team’s first 12 points on a pair of three pointers. Lauren Sende also scored two quick buckets and Kaitlyn Lendrum scored the team’s first points in the 12-3 run. After one quarter Oak Ridge led 23-11 with Klein leading the way with eight points, while Sende and Lendrum both had six. While the first quarter featured a fast-pace, run-and-gun flow up and down the floor, the second quarter was not the same. Both teams slowed down and Oak Ridge only managed 10 points, but still led comfortably at halftime 33-19. The second half was a carbon copy of the first with the third quarter being more of a quicker game, while in the fourth the pace once again slowed down. While the Lady Trojans won the game by 25 points, White wasn’t too sure what to think of his team’s performance. “This game had kind of a weird flow to it,” he said. “It started off fast and then slowed down and the same thing happened in the second half. The end result was good, though.” Klein was the team’s only player to reach double digits with 19 points. Lendrum finished with eight, as did Lindsay Honaker, who came off the bench and drained a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter and added another basket in the fourth. Sende and Michelle Barkley finished with six points. Oak Ridge began the week with a 63-56 win over Sheldon. The Lady Trojans enjoyed four players in double figures in a game that was separated by just three points until the final minute. “(Sheldon) shot the lights out. You have to give credit to both teams. It was a fight to the finish and neither team quit,” White said. “I think the second half of (Friday’s) St. Francis game made us believe a little more. We played a little more free and loose tonight and I liked that.” After Oak Ridge outscored Sheldon 20-11 in the third quarter for a 10-point lead entering the fourth, the Lady Huskies went on their own 10-3 run to start the final period. The score remained, 56-53, Oak Ridge from the five-minute mark all the way down until the 1:08 point when Anderson found Sende for a baseline jumper to give the Lady Trojans some breathing room. Lendrum then converted five free throws in the final minute to ice the game for Oak Ridge. Sheldon’s 3-point shooting kept the game close as they hit 7-of-15 from downtown in the first half, however, just 5-of-15 from inside the arc. Oak Ridge was able to hamper the Huskies’ outside shot more efficiently in the second half (3-for-12 from long range) and cut its own turnovers down from 11 in the first half to just three in the second. “Our point of emphasis in pregame was to take care of the ball,” said White. “When we cut down our turnovers, that gives us more shot opportunities and we had a huge lift from Nikki Dow offensively tonight. That’s what you need in these games. You need those unsung heroes to step up and let it be their day for a little bit.” Dow indeed gave the Lady Trojans a boost off the bench, connecting on all four of her shot attempts and leading Oak Ridge with 13 points, including 3-of-3 from distance. “It was definitely a proud moment for me and my team. I was happy to be a big part of this game,” said Dow. “We work great as a team and anyone can come in and do what we need to do.” Oak Ridge turned a four-point swing with under two minutes left in the first half. Dow hit the first of two free throws before Sende hauled in the offensive miss and kicked it out to Lendrum for three, giving the Lady Trojans a one-point lead into the locker room. Oak Ridge countered 16-point performances from both Alyna Kanae (five 3-pointers) and Kedina Monroe with Dow’s 13, 12 from Anderson and Sende (six rebounds apiece) and 10 more from Klein. Nick Pecoraro contributed to this story.