SACRAMENTO — Jenn Hoffman’s additional practice time working on three-pointers and scoring in the paint did help the Oak Ridge High girls basketball team take Kennedy deep into the second overtime Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion but it was the Cougars’ late execution that gave the South Sacramento team the 62-58 victory for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title.
The sophomore guard played the biggest game of her young prep career in making 6-of-9 three-pointers. Hoffman also made 8-of-14 field goals to finish with 24 points, tying Kennedy’s Lynette Johnson with game-high scoring honors.
“(Assistant coach Annie) Lamy has been helping me because my (game) has been off,” Hoffman said. “My teammates found me when I was open.”
The Cougars’ win avenged a 2010 setback to Oak Ridge in the section championship game at what was then Arco Arena.
Tied at 54-all after the first overtime, Johnson scored the first basket with an even three minutes left before Trojan senior guard Jenna Klein answered to tie the score. With 2:17 left, Johnson made one-of-two from the free throw line but Klein countered again for a 58-57 advantage, the last time Oak Ridge held the lead.
Johnson hit the go-ahead basket — a three-pointer — with a 1:07 left for a 59-58 lead and after the Trojans couldn’t convert on their next possession, Klein picked up her fifth and final foul with 31.6 seconds. Cougar guard Mele Kolokihakaufisi sank both free throws to cushion her team’s lead.
Oak Ridge head coach Steve White called a time out with 5.5 seconds left in the game to set up a play that could net the El Dorado Hills’ squad a three and a free throw but Hoffman’s shot rimmed out and Kennedy senior forward Amayla Greer grabbed the rebound to kick off the Kennedy celebration.
Though Oak Ridge gave its all, especially on offense, turnovers were the difference as the Trojans racked up 28 compared to 17 for the Cougars.
“We turned it over too many times,” White said. “They are not excuses. Focusing on rebounds, taking care of the ball. We only did half the battle today and we didn’t do both to get the victory.”
Hoffman tied the game at 49-all with five seconds left in the fourth quarter by making two-of-three free throws despite Kennedy’s best efforts to freeze her at the line. The Trojan calmly and confidently made her third attempt to tie the game. Johnson’s final shot missed to send the game into overtime.
“I was able to lock it down,” Hoffman said. “We all played together. We can still do it in Nor-Cal (playoffs, next week).”
Oak Ridge led the entire first half and most of the second. The Trojans jumped out 7-2 lead after the first quarter and were up 22-19 at the half. Toward the end of the second quarter, Kennedy’s 6-0 run after Michelle Barkley’s basket tightened the score.
“We had a chance to take control early and we didn’t do that,” White said.
On the boards, Oak Ridge pulled down 41 rebounds to Kennedy’s 26. Trojan senior forward Jacki Bateman had 10 boards, including six defensive. Senior forward Lauren Sende had six rebounds.
At the free throw line, Oak Ridge made 7-of-11 shots while Kennedy sank 10-of-18.
Hoffman was one of three Trojans scoring in double figures. Klein and junior forward Haley Anderson finished with 11 points each. Sende scored nine points, Barkley two and Bateman one. Cougars guard Lori Wong had 11 points behind Johnson’s leading points and sophomore guard Katie Lee had nine points.
“You’ve got to give her a ton of credit,” White said of Hoffman. “She’s been struggling the last two, three weeks with her shots. She’s just been tweaking it here and there and putting in some time for extra shots. To mentally come out today — we rode her back for a while.”