Jenna Klein knows practice makes perfect, whether it’s in a team environment or honing her long-range shooting skills alone with her dad.
“If we don’t do three’s at practice, I’ll go to the gym,” said Klein, who said she usually spends “about an hour” on shots behind the arc.
The extra time paid dividends Thursday night against the Ponderosa High girls basketball team inside the Trojans’ gym as Klein made two early three-pointers, part of her 19-point effort, helping the Oak Ridge High girls basketball squad post a 63-38 victory over the Bruins.
The win ended the first round of Delta River League play for Troy, who improved to 4-1 in league and 17-5 overall while Ponderosa fell to 1-4, 6-16 overall.
Klein’s treys gave Oak Ridge a quick 12-3 lead in an opening quarter that ended with the hosts on top 23-11. At the beginning of the third, the senior Trojan guard scored nine of the Trojans’ 11 points that built Oak Ridge’s 33-19 halftime advantage to 44-22 with 4:41 left in the third.
“We definitely wanted to get out to a good start,” said Klein of the third quarter run. “Try to get the score up as much as we can because we like to get all of our players in the game.”
Oak Ridge head coach Steve White added, “Jenna has been playing really well. She’s playing with a lot of confidence. I thought in that first quarter, she had a tremendous amount of energy; it was all over the place. So much so that she got really tired and had to ask for a sub. She doesn’t do that too often.”
If Klein wasn’t scoring from the perimeter, she was busy helping create turnovers, run the offense or driving to the hoop.
“Just tried to crash up on her,” said Ponderosa senior forward Jennifer Curto.
Ponderosa coach Noel O’Donnell added, “We played well, but the thing with Oak Ridge is that we can’t focus on any one person. We have to give respect to all of them.”
The Lady Bruins used various defenses — from man-to-man to half-court — to slow the Trojans’ offense down. If Oak Ridge wasn’t scoring, it rebounded. The Trojans outrebounded Ponderosa 43-18.
“We wanted to limit their possessions and take our time on offense,” O’Donnell said.
The Bruins played hard and never gave up. Thanks to baskets from junior forward Ashley Beck, who scored six of her 10 points in the game in the first quarter, Ponderosa kept pace after Troy’s initial start.
“We have been really working on playing hard throughout the game, no matter what,” O’Donnell said.
Curto played most of the game and her gutsy performance, despite the score, kept the Bruin spirits high. Oak Ridge led 51-27 going into the fourth quarter.
“We play with heart,” Curto said. “We play from start to finish. We win as a team, we lose as a team.”
White enjoyed the game’s intensity that lasted all four quarters.
“We respect each other’s programs,” White said. “They come in and battle. We want to win those rival games. I give them a lot of credit; they kept playing the whole time. That’s a tribute to coach (O’Donnell) and what she’s got her team doing. They didn’t quit.”
Lindsay Honaker and Kaitlyn Lendrum scored eight points each for the Trojans while Michelle Barkley and Lauren Sende followed with six points each. Lauren Liebert had four points, Jenn Hoffman and Nicole Rucker scored three points each and Jacki Bateman, Nikki Dow and Haley Anderson had two points each.
Three players scored in double figures for Ponderosa: Beck, Olivia Nelson and Stacey Godwin scored 10 points each. Curto and sophomore forward Sophia George scored two points each for the Bruins while Jacquelyn Curto and Brooke Sinner scored a point each.
Oak Ridge won the junior varsity game 68-15.