Trojans triumph

Oak Ridge claims first state title
By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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BAKERSFIELD — Some called them underdogs, but now you can call the team from El Dorado Hills champions. In the eyes of many, the unthinkable happened in Bakersfield Saturday night when Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ basketball team upset Long Beach Poly to win the Division I state championship. But for the 20 players on the squad from El Dorado Hills, the result was exactly what they expected. The Lady Trojans set a goal of winning the state title after losing in the Northern California final a year ago and accomplished that goal on Saturday with a 55-42 win over Poly, who was aiming for an unprecedented fifth straight state title. “Everybody was talking that this was David playing against Goliath,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said following the game. “Well, David won again.” He said the favored team didn’t intimidate his players. “They were faster than us, bigger than us, taller than us and stronger than us, but we didn’t let that rattle us,” White said. “We talked about playing with patience and composure.” Oak Ridge took down the defending champs four times over by playing Trojan basketball: which is a tenacious, relentless and suffocating defense, a patient offense featuring lots of ball movement and an acronym, which the team plays by, “NPH,” which stands for Nobody Plays Harder. Oak Ridge features one scholarship player, Stanford-bound Sara James, and a solid group of role players. That group soundly defeated a Poly team featuring four scholarship players hailing from a school with more than double Oak Ridge’s enrollment. With the win, Oak Ridge made history by becoming the first school from the Sac-Joaquin Section to win a Division I state basketball championship. “We’ve worked so hard for this,” Oak Ridge junior guard Natalie Stone said. “I still can’t believe it. I told Cate (teammate Caitlin Welsch) that it feels like a dream and almost asked her to pinch me to see if it was. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”