Simms, Scott lead Oak Ridge over Rio, 61-46

Two guards combine for 44 of team's 61 points
By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge can’t seem to shake the poor starts, but the Trojans sure do finish strong. Oak Ridge advanced to Friday’s championship game of its own Toss-Up Tournament by beating Rio Americano on Thursday, 61-46. Oak Ridge will play either Bella Vista or El Dorado in the finals tomorrow at 8 p.m. After a shaky first quarter in which they trailed 14-10, Oak Ridge outscored the Raiders 51-32 the rest of the game, including 36-21 in the second half to roll to the comfortable 15-point win. Bryce Scott scored 23 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, while Josh Simms carried Oak Ridge in the first half with 12 of his 19 points, when Scott struggled against the box-and-one defense the Raiders threw at him. Defense, Oak Ridge’s calling card, kept them in the game, as they made it tough for the Raiders to score, while the Trojans also received solid contributions off the bench which was another key to the win. “Rio is sort of a rival with us, as we seem to play them a couple times each year,” Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott said. “They wanted to beat us on our home floor and we stayed close early on as we struggled. We really got it going in the second half, though, when Bryce got hot. Josh kept us in it in the first half and just played a great game. Other guys like Sean O’Donnell, Connor Sende and Roman Andrus came off the bench and really played well too and that was a big key. This game should give them confidence and it also gives me confidence in them.” Simms scored 12 of his team’s 25 points in the first half and has been playing well, particularly since being inserted in the starting lineup a few games ago. “I’m just trying to be aggressive offensively and shoot the ball,” Simms said. “They were really focusing on Bryce and left me open and I just happened to be making my shots tonight.” With the game tied at 25 at halftime, Oak Ridge scored the first four points of the second half on baskets by Scott and went on a 15-10 run to open up a 40-35 lead midway through the quarter. They started off the fourth quarter by scoring the first six points on back-to-back threes by Scott, which gave them all the cushion they needed, as they coasted to a 15-point win after taking the 51-38 lead. “Our defense and rebounding in the second half was the key,” Simms said. Scott added, “I thought one of the keys was Sean’s defense. He came off the bench and took away the angles and got some touches and that was huge. Those little things are important.” While Scott and the Trojans were pleased with the win, they’re still trying to figure out the reason for the team’s slow starts in the first quarter. “I’m still trying to figure that one out,” Scott said. “It’s aggravating, but I’m getting used to it now. I think it’s a matter of finding the right guys playing with energy.” Simms added, “We’re all confused about it. We all want to get off to a good start so bad, but we’re just not able to. It’s frustrating.”