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Trojans blow eight-point lead in fourth quarter in 50-49 loss to Golden Valley

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge suffered a heartbreaking 50-49 loss to Golden Valley Wednesday in the first round of the playoffs in a game they clearly could have won.

The Trojans were in the driver’s seat, leading 40-32 at the start of the third quarter, but in less than three minutes the Cougars had cut the deficit to one, 40-39, and had momentum and the home crowd back in the game.

With the game tied at 47, Golden Valley hit the game-winning shot with 49 seconds remaining on a three-pointer by Christian Carroll, who was standing at least three feet behind the arc. While Carroll had a good look at the basket, at that distance it appeared to be a forced shot, but it rattled home, one of seven three-pointers the Cougars hit on the night and Carroll’s third.

The shot gave the Cougars a three-point lead, but 12 seconds later, Connor Sende knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the Oak Ridge deficit to one.

Golden Valley’s Dusty Nunes then missed a free throw at the other end, which gave the Trojans the ball and the final shot, but Grant Dean’s three-pointer taken with two seconds remaining was a bit long and Golden Valley won the game.

“We did everything we wanted to in this game but win it,” Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott said after t he game. “Offensively, we got the ball inside and defensively, we rotated out on their shooters, but we just couldn’t make a layup. We just couldn’t finish.”

While the Cougars knocked down seven three-pointers, the Trojans missed 12 shots under the basket, four in the fourth quarter and seven in the second-half after missing five in a two-minute span in the first quarter.

Tyler Hatten had arguably the best game of his high school career, scoring 21 points to lead the team. Even so, he missed his a couple shots close to the basket, as did Grant Dean, who scored 14 points, Josh Simms, Jared Casey-Holland, Connor Sende and Matt Battaglia.

“We’ve missed those shots all season; it’s been our nemesis,” Scott said. “Everyone took a turn missing them; it’s not like it was just one guy.”

Hatten added, “We missed a lot of layups that were just hitting off the rim. We should have made those and we would have been up. We could have beaten them. It’s tough.”