In their second meeting Saturday, the Oak Ridge High and Nevada Union High girls basketball teams battled to the end.
The Trojans, who were behind 31-22 at halftime, rallied in the second half before losing a tough 60-50 contest to the Miners at the Trojans’ gym. Oak Ridge won the first contest, 57-44, at the Oak Ridge Shoot Out on Dec. 14.
Trimming the lead to 43-39 entering the fourth quarter, Oak Ridge took the lead thanks to its defense. Two Miner turnovers started the quarter, and led to a basket from Trojan center Michelle Barkley (six points) and a lay-up from guard Jenn Hoffman (game-high 12 points) to tie the game.
Then another Miner turnover led to Trojan guard Grace Derksen scoring on a put back to give Oak Ridge a 45-43 lead.
“Our girls came out really strong in the fourth quarter to cut the lead and take the lead,” Oak Ridge head coach Steve White said.
Hoffman, a three-year starter, dominated the fourth quarter. She scored four of her 12 points, and forced two of the Miners’ three turnovers. She played all but two minutes of the quarter.
“Jenn is a gamer,” said White of Hoffman. “She lives and breathes for this team, and she really wants this team to do well, as does all of them. She definitely brings it to practice every day, she brings it in games. She brings it, 100 percent of the time.”
After Barkley scored a basket to increase the team’s lead to 47-43 lead, the Miners started their own rally. The game was tied at 47-all when Sydney Porter sank two free throws.
Oak Ridge guard Ali Bettencourt (nine points) gave her team the lead again, making one of two free throws with 3:59 left in the game for a 48-47 lead. But Miner forward Emma Peterson (16 points) sank two free throws with 3:04 left for a 49-48 lead.
To top off its lead, the Miners went on an 11-2 run that included two treys and making 5-of-6 free throws.
“We ran out of gas,” White said.
Nevada Union increased its 17-13 lead from the first quarter to 31-22. Despite committing three turnovers, the Miners capitalized on three treys and their full-court pressure defense held the Trojans to nine points.
“You have to give them credit,” White said. “They came out and really took it to us, and we were late to respond.”
Although a non-league game, it’s possible Oak Ridge and Nevada Union (both 12-4) have not seen the last of each other. They could square off again in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff game next month.
“I told the girls that this could be the first of three,” White said. “They’re a very good team, well-coached. It will be a good rubber match if we get there.”
Trojan forward Shelby Peters followed in scoring with five points. Grace, Saraya Smith and Drossos Yumi followed with four points each, and Conde Isamar had two.
Oak Ridge grabbed 32 rebounds that included 10 in the first quarter, and had 13 turnovers. Nevada Union pulled down 21 boards, and committed 16 turnovers.
The Trojans resume Delta River League action at St. Francis on Friday.