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Trojans wrap up non-league with win over Shasta

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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A roller coaster of a non-league season ended Saturday for Oak Ridge High’s varsity boys’ basketball team, as the Trojans defeated Shasta, 50-36, to place fifth in the Toss-Up Tournament.

Oak Ridge begins league play at Pleasant Grove Wednesday, and will enter the game with a 10-7 record. With Pleasant Grove and Sheldon among the top teams in the Sacramento area, the Delta River League is arguably the toughest league around. Folsom (9-8) and Jesuit (8-7) also have winning records and Ponderosa (7-9) is a respectable opponent.

“Now we play the big boys,” Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott said. “We have to get 15 wins to make the playoffs so we have to win five league games. Our goal is five wins, but hopefully we’ll get six or seven and eight would be wonderful.”

Oak Ridge played exceptional defense Saturday in the win over Shasta, holding the Wolves to 36 points, including 21 in the final three quarters.

“When you haven’t played us before, our defense is tough, especially for teams that aren’t good from the perimeter,” Scott said. “The only easy points we gave up is when we gambled and got out of position and rotations. You can’t tell them not to gamble, but I tell them to pick and choose. I tell them if they’re going to gamble they better get it.”

The Trojans didn’t have much trouble with the Wolves, except for late in the first quarter and early on in the second. By halftime, Oak Ridge led 30-21 and while the Wolves got as close as five points to the lead in the second half, never challenged for the lead.

Connor Sende was named to the all-tournament team, as he led the Trojans with 12 points. As the box score shows, however, the Trojans have no go-to scorer and the points were distributed somewhat evenly, as Josh Simms finished with 10, Tyler Hatten scored seven, and Sergio Quilici, Bryan Bare, Brandon Williams and Matt Battaglia each had five.

“Connor played well and that was nice to see,” Scott said. “Picking an MVP is difficult because we’re definitely a team with no superstars. We have to play together to be successful. Every night there’s somebody different stepping up.”

Despite the ups and downs of the preseason, Scott is OK with the team’s 10-7 record.

“I think there are three games we should have or could have won and I’d rather be 13-4 than 10-7,” Scott said. “I think we should have beaten Monterey Trail, Pleasant Valley, the team we lost to in Orlando and even Del Campo. We’re a young team, though, and you can’t expect everything to always go our way. It’s been a process. We’re getting there.”

Bare, a senior, has been one of Oak Ridge’s steadier players. He likes where the team is at as league play begins this week.

“It’s good to win these last two games to have some momentum heading into league,” Bare said. “We’ve got to pull out five wins to make the playoffs. We’ve lost some games we probably should have won, but overall I happy with non-league. We’re in a good position for league.”