In a matchup of the area No. 2 and 3-ranked teams, host Oak Ridge fell to the Pleasant Grove Eagles 56-51 in Tuesday night’s Delta River League action.
“We came out sluggish, and weren’t able to control the game from their on, even after we got some better play. They’re too good of a team to only play two quality quarters and expect to win,” Trojan coach Steve White said.
The sluggish start White referred to was the Lady Trojans’ ultimate demise. Led by Avonna Lee and Dejza James, the Eagles shot out to a 8-0 lead. After Troy’s Jenna Klein sank a three-pointer to give Oak Ridge its first points, Pleasant Grove took an 18-8 advantage to the second period.
The Eagles added on to their lead as Lee and James, who led the Eagles with 15 and 18 points, respectively, continued to score as Pleasant Grove went up 13, 32-19, at the half.
“We weren’t able to instill the tempo we were hoping to bring. They controlled the tempo from the beginning, and that cost us,” Klein said.
White’s passionate halftime speech helped jump-start the Trojans in the second half.
“I kept our players in the hallway and wouldn’t let them into the team room because we weren’t playing as a team. I said that we just have to come out and impose our will,” White said when recalling his speech.
The pep talk worked as the Lady Trojans, led by Haley Anderson and Klein, stormed back. After two layups by Anderson, Michelle Barkley put through a layup of her own to get Oak Ridge back within single digits but Pleasant Grove wasn’t about to keel over as Lee scored six points in the last two minutes of the quarter to give the Eagles an 11-point buffer at 43-32 heading into the final frame.
The teams traded off points, until Lauren Sende and Kaitlyn Lendrum put through six free throws within a two-minute span to get Oak Ridge within four points with 26 seconds left. After Pleasant Grove missed two free throws, Troy missed a three-pointer and Oak Ridge’s only hope was to foul and pray Pleasant Grove missed its free throws. Unfortunately, the Eagles made their shots from the charity stripe and held on to the 56-51 win.
“They’re a really good team, and we’re going to see a lot of teams of their caliber in the playoffs, so knowing that even after two stagnant quarters we can make a game competitive is nice,” White said.
Oak Ridge is next in action Thursday at Folsom, and the Trojans follow that up with two home games against highly-ranked Sheldon and St. Francis.