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Trojans eliminated by McNair, 62-58

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge saw its season come to an end Wednesday, as the McNair Eagles defeated the Trojans in the first round of the playoffs, 62-58. The Trojans outscored the Eagles in the fourth quarter, but McNair executed better in the game’s final two minutes and made nine-of-11 free throws to hold on for the win. The difference in the game came in the latter half of the third quarter. With the score tied at 36, McNair outscored Oak Ridge 11-4 in the last five minutes of the quarter to open up a seven-point lead, 47-40. Oak Ridge got as close as one point in the fourth quarter, 47-46, but never got the lead. Matt Howard sparked the Trojans in the fourth, scoring all five of his points in a 90-second span, the final two points cutting McNair’s lead to two, 53-51. The Trojans had a chance to tie the game with a two or take the lead with a three in the final 1:30, but turned the ball over and after a pair of McNair free throws increased the lead to four, Will Findlay missed a short basket and McNair knocked down two more foul shots to go up 57-51 with 41 seconds to play. The Trojans were able to cut the lead to three with three seconds to play, but two more free throws secured the McNair victory. Bryce Scott led Oak Ridge with 21 points, scoring seven of Oak Ridge’s 15 points in the fourth quarter. Tyler Simms and Findlay both scored 10 points. McNair featured five players in double figures, as Eric Duncan, Xavier Anders and Darro Byrd finished with 12 points, while Marcus Cotton and Thomas Wallace each scored 10. Wallace, the team’s leading scoring averaging 17 points per game, scored one point through three quarters before scoring nine of his team’s 15 points in the fourth quarter, seven coming from the foul line. After the game, the Oak Ridge players and the coaching staff were understandably dejected. “It’s always difficult to see your season end,” Oak Ridge coach Bob Christensen said. “I’ve been doing this 20 years and I’m still not good at giving postgame speeches at the end of the season. I love my team. I’m proud of them. They gave it their all and they care. It’s tough to see them go through the pain they’re going through right now. “We had our opportunities but that bad stretch in the third quarter hurt us.” “We executed our game plan and played our butts off but didn’t come away with the win,” Oak Ridge senior DJ Leszczynski said. “They had that spurt in the third quarter and we didn’t recover from that. It’s been a fun season, but this is a tough way to go out.”