The tug of war came to a joyful end as Oak Ridge held off a late rally by rival St. Francis in a Delta River League girls basketball game Tuesday night, beating the Troubadours 58-54 in overtime.
“I give St. Francis a lot of credit, they had a great game plan and had an answer for just about everything we did,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. “But our girls maintained their composure and fought. It showed they’re pretty resilient.”
Leading 41-35 at the start of the fourth quarter, Oak Ridge (3-0, 16-3) attempted to put away the Troubadours. Haley Anderson, who led the Trojans with 16 points, scored the first two baskets of the quarter for Oak Ridge. But St. Francis battled back to within two points at 43-41 thanks to two pairs of free throws from Rachel Frank.
After Oak Ridge extended its lead to five points, Frank’s layup with 58 seconds left in regulation brought the visitors back to within three points at 47-44. After a poor Oak Ridge possession, St. Francis’ Susie Rogers nailed a corner three pointer with 15 seconds left to tie the game at 47-all. Oak Ridge had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but both shots fell short.
In the four-minute overtime quarter, the game was just as intense. St. Francis scored first with a lay-up from Marisa Boras, but Shelby Peters answered with a lay-up of her own. Then Trojans guard Jenn Hoffman tipped the game in Oak Ridge’s favor dramatically.
The Troubadours came up empty on their possession, Hoffman drove through two defenders and scooped the ball in for an acrobatic lay-up. She followed that up with an even more impressive score, controlling two defenders while maintaining possession en route to a bucket that pushed Oak Ridge ahead 53-49.
The two teams traded baskets, and Oak Ridge led 55-51 with a minute left. Frank, who led all scorers with 19 points, put through a straight-on three pointer to wrestle St. Francis back at 55-54 with 53 seconds left.
The most dramatic part of the game turned out to be a technicality. After converting the huge three pointer, St. Francis’ full-court press forced a steal, but Oak Ridge’s Nikki Dow jumped in the pile for the ball and wrestled for possession. A jump ball was called that resulted in an Oak Ridge possession.
The Trojans inbounded again, successfully this time, and Anderson was fouled. She made both free throws to give Oak Ridge a 57-54 lead. St. Francis missed a potential game-tying three pointer, and Hoffman collected the rebound. She made the first free throw that iced the victory for Oak Ridge.
The quick pace of the game was set early and often, turning the basketball game into what looked more like a track meet. Ali Bettencourt, who contributed 15 points, gave the Trojans an early lead with a three, but St. Francis took a 16-14 lead to the second quarter. The Troubadours led 26-21 late in the second quarter, but consecutive Anderson and Bettencourt jumpers pulled Oak Ridge within one point at halftime, trailing 26-25.
Oak Ridge regained control in the third quarter. A Jenna Ford lay-up gave the Trojans their first lead since the opening quarter, and that opened up the scoring onslaught that followed. Bettencourt drained two, three pointers sandwiched around two St. Francis treys, but Oak Ridge trailed 33-35 after two Troubadour free throws.
Oak Ridge rallied as Anderson sunk two short jumpers, and Peters put in a difficult lay-up that gave the hosts a 39-35 lead, setting up for the exciting finish.
“I thought we rushed a lot of shots in the first half, which is fine,” White said. “They have the green light to do that, they just have to recognize tempo. We got a little rushed in the first half, but we calmed down and made some better decisions.”