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Trojans start league with two solid wins

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge got its start in the Delta River League with a thrilling come-from-behind overtime win over Jesuit on Jan. 12. They followed it up with a solid trouncing of Folsom on Friday and now have an interesting matchup on the road with archrival Ponderosa on Friday. The Bruins only have two wins this season, but don’t think for a second that that will make a difference on Friday. Oak Ridge coach Bob Christensen doesn’t think it will. “It’s a rivalry game and it’s out first time playing in their new gym,” Christensen said. “Anything can happen. We’re going to have to focus on the little things like we always do.” The Trojans enter this week with their unbeaten record still intact at 17-0. On Monday the Trojans played Rio Americano in a non-league game and don’t play again until Friday. Friday’s 57-34 win over Folsom was as solid as it was impressive. Coming off an emotional and equally thrilling win over Jesuit, the Trojans could have easily come out flat and been not ready to play against the Bulldogs, but it was quite to the contrary. Oak Ridge came out as sharp as ever and stymied the Folsom offense, holding them to only 34 points. “We came in focusing on the little things,” Christensen said. “Defensively we focused on making adjustments with our positioning and getting back on track point-wise because in our last two games we had allowed 66 points to Jesuit and Yuba City. We gave up our season-low of 34 points.” Offensively, Bryce Scott led Oak Ridge with 17 points, while Tyler Simms scored 15, coming off five three-pointers. Will Findlay was solid with four points, four rebounds and four blocked shots, while Scott Sanchez scored eight points on four-of-four shooting. “Oak Ridge is the only undefeated team in the Sacramento area for a reason,” Folsom coach Frank Horwath said. “They play well defensively, they have two good guards in Bryce Scott and Simms and Findlay is a very good shot blocker in the middle.” If any team didn’t feel Oak Ridge was for real with a 15-0 record heading into Delta River League play, the Trojans answered that question with an emphatic yes with their 82-66 overtime victory over Jesuit. Down by 20 points, 41-21, with 5:35 to play in the third quarter, Oak Ridge was well on its way to suffering its first loss. The team had trouble scoring against a tough Jesuit defense and couldn’t gain any momentum to start a run. The team chipped the lead down to 10 after three quarters, 46-36, but the Marauders were still in control. Oak Ridge picked up its defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, but still couldn’t capitalize on the offensive end of the court, particularly at the free throw line where they made only three-of-10 shots in a 3:30 stretch that still saw them trailing 55-45 with 2:25 to play. That’s when Simms helped the team break out of their scoring slump. Simms scored eight points in 42 seconds with a field goal and a pair of three-pointers that cut the lead to 58-53 with 1:18 to play. Matt Howard then made a steal and set up D.J. Leszczynski for a layup that made it a three-point game, 58-55 with 1:06 to play. Scott’s basket cut the lead to one and then he stole the ball and assisted Simms on a layup that gave Oak Ridge its first lead since 1-0 at 59-58 with 38 seconds to play. Jesuit’s Akachi Okugo completed a three-point play to give the Marauders a two-point lead with 8.2 seconds to play. Scott was then followed and calmly made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 61 and the game went into overtime. Oak Ridge dominated the four-minute overtime period, outscoring Jesuit 21-5 to win the game, 82-66. “It’s an instant classic,” Christensen said of the thrilling win. Scott led the way with 21 points, while Leszczynski had 17 and Simms finished with 15. Findlay scored 10 points and added 14 rebounds and six blocks.