Slow start leads to Oak Ridge loss against Del Campo

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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An old sports adage says that teams play as they practice. That held true Thursday night as Oak Ridge High’s varsity boys’ basketball team suffered a 53-49 loss on the road against Del Campo. For the second straight game, Oak Ridge came out of the gate slowly, as Del Campo scored the first seven points and led 15-2 a little more than four minutes into the game. Turnovers kept the Trojans from scoring, as did poor shooting as the team had a couple layups that didn’t fall. Oak Ridge only made three shots in the first quarter, two by Bryce Scott and another by Matt Howard, to go along with one free throw. The Cougars knocked down three three-pointers along with four other baskets. Things didn’t get much better in the second quarter until the final 90 seconds. Oak Ridge trailed by 18 points, 31-13, until scoring the final six points of the half on baskets by Sean O’Donnell, Howard and Bryce Bastain to trail at halftime by 12, 31-19. “I’m not surprised how we played because yesterday in practice for some reason they had this attitude and didn’t want to play hard,” Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott said. “Tonight was a major disappointment.” The Trojans improved their play, however, in the second half in a big way, but when the game was on the line, didn’t execute like they’d hoped. A 12-3 run in the first six minutes of the third quarter cut the led to 34-31, as Scott and Scott Sanchez each scored six points during the run, punctuated by better defense, easier looks at the basket and falling shots. After three quarters the Trojans were solidly in the game, trailing 36-33. “The third quarter was all pride,” Scott said. “The first half was close to the worse half of basketball that I’ve ever seen and at the half I told them that they’re way better than that. They came out in the third and made a nice comeback.” Oak Ridge never made it all the way back. One point is as close as they got early in the fourth quarter following a transition layup by Grant Dean which made the score 36-35. They stayed in the game the rest of the way, trailing 49-46 with 1:37 to play, but two points is as close as they would get following a three-pointer by O’Donnell with 25 seconds remaining, making the score 51-49. The Cougars made two free throws late to seal the victory. “We made some critical mistakes late, as we had the ball four times with a chance and never got a shot off,” Scott said. Bryce Scott led the Trojans with 17 points. Howard added 11, while Sanchez scored eight, all in the third quarter. Oak Ridge’s next game is Wednesday when they host the Trojan Toss-Up. Oak Ridge plays at 6:30 p.m. against Shasta.