Trojans pull out two-point win over Bruins, 46-44By: Nick Pecoraro Telegraph Correspondent
When it comes to making the final playoff push near the end of the regular season, the Oak Ridge boys’ basketball team tends to have a flare for the dramatic. Tuesday night at rival Ponderosa High was no exception.
Shades of 2012’s regular season finale between the Trojans and Bruins, where Ponderosa stormed back from 14 down to win at the buzzer, were imminent but Oak Ridge held on for a 46-44 victory and thus, with its fifth league win, clinched a spot in the Division I postseason.
Ponderosa (0-10 in the Delta River League), trailed by 12 in the third quarter, but fought back to within one point with less than a minute to play in the game. Josh Simms collected a long offensive rebound and was fouled with 14 seconds left. Simms hit one of two and gave Ponderosa a chance to win with a three.
Trevor Hammitt drove left and found Jacob Bist in the corner, where minutes earlier he drained a 3-pointer to cut the Bruin deficit to four. Bist had a wide-open look, but his shot hit off the iron as the clock expired and the Trojan fans stormed the court to mob their team.
“We didn’t want a repeat of last year,” said Oak Ridge forward Grant Dean.
“I was hoping he missed. I was bummed he got such a wide-open look, but we were kind of in scramble mode. I was just glad he missed,” said Coach Steve Scott. “We did some silly stuff that made the game closer than it needed to be, but everyone played hard tonight.”
Oak Ridge’s biggest lead in the fourth quarter came when freshman point guard Matt Battaglia cleaned up an offensive miss for a put-back for a 10-point Trojan lead. Ponderosa kept charging back on their senior night, led by Chris Snyder, who scored nine of his 14 points in the final quarter. Snyder’s old-fashioned 3-point play, Bist’s corner 3-pointer and consecutive post-up buckets from Snyder cut the Trojan lead to one with 41 seconds left.
Simms led the Trojans with 17 points and Dean had 13. Connor Sende added seven rebounds and four steals on the defensive end for Oak Ridge.
With its fifth Delta River League win this year, Oak Ridge clinched a postseason berth. Brackets are set to be announced today. In the latest Sac-Joaquin Section power rankings, the Trojans were tenth before losses to Jesuit and Sheldon preceded Tuesday night’s win.
“Tonight was a big win for us and we’ve just got to keep going. It’s the next step. The journey continues and we’re going to give everything we got,” said Simms.