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Trojans stave off Bruins to keep postseason hopes alive

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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The Oak Ridge Trojans wrapped up their 2010-11 regular season in dramatic fashion on Friday night with a huge win over Ponderosa, 64-60 at Oak Ridge High. It was a much closer game than coach Bob Christensen would have liked. Oak Ridge held a 15-point cushion midway through the third quarter but the stingy Bruins kept chipping away at the lead throughout the second half and had multiple opportunities to tie the game. The Trojans remained poised in the fourth quarter and never surrendered their lead. The Trojans started off shaky, turning the ball over three times in their first four possessions of the game. They regained control after Tyler Simms connected on a 25-foot 3-pointer from the wing to close out the first quarter. Oak Ridge led by 12 points at halftime behind a balanced scoring attack that featured four Trojans with at least five points. Oak Ridge also held a significant rebounding advantage over Ponderosa in the first 16 minutes, 16-6. The Trojans earned their biggest lead of the night when DJ Leszczynski converted on a three-point play with 4:22 left in the third. That was when Ponderosa made a 14-3 run to close out the period and pull themselves within four points of the Trojan lead. Each team scored 20 points in the final quarter. Bruin guard Taylor Bybee hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left that brought Ponderosa to within three. After a missed attempt on the other end, Ponderosa had a chance to cut the Trojan lead to just one. Enter Trojan senior John Cunningham. Cunningham blocked a layup attempt from a slashing Zacc Williams. After Oak Ridge hit a pair of free throws, Cunningham then took the opportunity on the next possession to block a corner 3-point attempt from Bybee as the Trojans recovered the loose ball with just over a second remaining to seal the win. “We were playing tight ‘D’ the whole time but we got away from that a little bit (in the second half). I was just kind of in the right place at the right time,” said Cunningham, who finished his senior night with seven points and three rejections. Heading into Friday night, the Trojans were ranked no. 15 in the current CIF Division I postseason bracket after losing five of their previous six Delta River League contests. “Rivalry games are always tough and Pondo is a scrappy team. If we didn’t win this game, then we might not even make the playoffs after going undefeated in the preseason. It’s definitely a big win. Hopefully we can carry the momentum into the playoffs,” Cunningham continued. Leszczynski led the Trojans with 14 points. Bryce Scott and Scott Sanchez added 10 points apiece. Oak Ridge also celebrated its six seniors, Simms, Cunningham, Leszczynski, Will Findlay, Morgan Elmachtoub and JT Tulabut in what would be their final home game at Oak Ridge. With the regular season coming to a close, the Trojans (5-5 in league, 21- 5 overall) now await the playoff brackets Sunday to see what the future holds.