SACRAMENTO — In the third quarter of its CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game Saturday at Sleep Train Arena, the Oak Ridge High girls basketball team had St. Mary’s on the ropes.
The Trojans had mounted a run to obliterate the Rams’ 39-31 halftime lead. Key baskets from Shelby Peters and Ali Bettencourt helped tie the game at 46-all but St. Mary’s went on its own run to break open the game and win 77-53.
Saturday was Troy’s second appearance in the D-I title game in three seasons; Oak Ridge lost to Kennedy in overtime two years ago inside the same arena.
Peters’ shot gave Oak Ridge (26-5) a 41-40 lead with 3:38 left in the quarter. After St. Mary’s responded, Bettencourt nailed a three-pointer for an Oak Ridge 44-42 advantage. Trojan guard Isamar Conde was then fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws for a 45-42 lead.
Sydney Fadal’s bucket to cut the Trojans’ lead to 45-44 and the Rams took 46-45 lead when Carlissa Shipp made a basket. Conde’s free throw tied the game at 46-all.
“Going into halftime, it was only an eight-point game,” said Bettencourt, who had a team-high 19 points. “We knew that if we can get a spark, we could come back.”
St. Mary’s (24-4) took the lead for good when Kat Tudor (game-high 24 points) hit a trey for a 49-46 lead. A Trojan turnover led to Tudor hitting another to give the Rams a 52-46 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“It was one of those things where they scored in bunches,” Oak Ridge head coach Steve White said. “Some of the times we turned it over and gave them uncontested layups, or we didn’t have anyone to challenge their threes.”
St. Mary’s defense forced Trojan turnovers early in the fourth quarter. Aided with the Rams’ offense going on a 13-2 run, their lead expanded to 65-48 halfway through the fourth.
“We missed some layups and shots that we should’ve made, and they ended up making shots or forgot where their main shooter (Tudor) was,” Bettencourt said, “and that’s when she made crucial baskets for them. It was just disappointing when we slowed down, or had a brain lapse, and they ended up making shots.”
The Rams finished the quarter and game with a 12-5 run for their third consecutive section championship, and second straight D-I title.
“The score was not indicative of how competitive that game was,” White said. “We were right there, but they just have that ability to blow it open.”
Oak Ridge led 19-14 after the first quarter that was the result of eight rebounds and two treys from Bettencourt and guard Jenn Hoffman (14 points), who earned the game’s Best Sportsmanship Award.
The two teams traded leads in the second quarter. After Trojan guard Briana Dulgar hit a basket that gave Oak Ridge a 31-26 lead, St. Mary’s picked up steam toward the end of the quarter that ended with a 13-5 run and its 39-31 halftime lead.
Grace Derksen, Michelle Barkley and Peters finished with four points each for the Trojans. Conde, Celeste Vitolas, Sarava Smith and Dulgar finished with two points each.
Both teams had 35 rebounds for the game. Peters had eight, Bettencourt seven and Barkley six. Hoffman had two of the Trojans’ five assists. Barkley had a blocked shot.
Although Oak Ridge lost, it still advances to the Nor Cal playoffs beginning Wednesday. For more information, visit cifstate.org.