Close one for Trojans
SHINGLE SPRINGS — Bryce Scott scored 36 points — 26 after halftime including 18 in the fourth quarter — as visiting Oak Ridge overcame 11 Ponderosa three-pointers to post a hard-fought 76-67 intra-county Delta River League victory Friday night.
With center Will Findlay in constant foul trouble and the perimeter game off, the Trojans (19-0, 3-0) had to find another way to win. Using pressure defense on one end and attacking the basket on the other, Troy denied the Bruins’ upset bid to remain undefeated on the season.
Oak Ridge’s aggressive play earned it 33 trips to the foul line and the Trojans made 26, including 12-of-14 in the fourth quarter. Scott, who fell one shy of his career high of 37 points set earlier this year against Kennedy, sank 7-of-8 in the final eight minutes and with Findlay playing most of the quarter, the Trojans outscored the hosts 28-22 to secure the win.
“It was one of those games where we had to grind it out because our outside shots weren’t there and defensively, we didn’t play well. They’re our rivals, well-coached and a great team so we expected a tough game,” Scott said.
Until Scott nailed several jumpers in the fourth, Tyler Simms had Oak Ridge’s only perimeter success with several threes while the Bruins (3-12, 0-3) lit it up from beyond the arc all evening, an issue Trojan coach Bob Christensen took responsibility for.
“Blame it on me — our defense is designed to take away the penetration and contain — and because of that we didn’t close-out well. Tonight we were a step short,” Christensen said. “Our goal was to be aggressive and go to the basket and that’s what we told our guards to do. This rivalry is a tradition and a great experience for the kids and the fans. It’s exactly what I expected.”
Having lost 10 straight, Ponderosa had nothing to lose in front of its big home crowd, the largest in school history. With its fashion statement, the Loud Crowd came out in droves to oppose the Blue Crew who packed the west end zone.
Oak Ridge fans took the first shot when, after Simms fed Findlay for an ally-oop dunk to open the game, they shouted “this game’s over!” Though Ponderosa trailed 9-1 early, the Bruins heated up behind the shooting of Zacc Williams, Taylor Bybee, Ryan Miles and Griffin Fontana and were competitive the rest of the way. The first quarter closed on a fade-away one-handed tip from 10 feet out by Scott Sanchez at the buzzer that put the Trojans up 17-12.
Williams’ pull-up jumper and his steal and breakaway layin pulled the Bruins to within a point and they took the lead on Fontana’s corner three. After a stint on the bench, Findlay returned and Oak Ridge found him for three straight baskets before Dom Campodonico pulled in a one-handed rebound, returned it into the bucket and later sank a free throw to keep Ponderosa within a point.
The Bruins then took their biggest lead at 32-28 after Williams’ steal set up a coast-to-coast drive by Ryan Miles and Taylor Bybee stuck a wing trey. Simms answered with a spot-up three and his two free throws and two by Scott sent Oak Ridge to halftime with a 35-34 lead.
Findlay was hit with his fourth foul seconds into the third quarter and was back on the bench. Despite 10 second-half points from Williams, Miles’ nine on sheer hustle and athleticism and a pair of Fontana threes, Troy held a small lead and slowly secured the victory with Scott’s big finish.
Simms added 12 points to the Trojan cause; Findlay bucketed nine; DJ Leszczynski had eight; and Sanchez, seven. For Ponderosa, Williams scored 20 points; Miles had 16; and Bybee and Fontana both scored nine points.