After a hard-fought first meeting, the 2nd-ranked Pleasant Grove Eagles outlasted host Oak Ridge Wednesday in their second Delta River League matchup, winning 42-37.
“I’m really proud of how hard they played, we battled the entire night. We’re playing the top teams in Northern California and we’re close; we just can’t get over that hump,” Trojan coach Steve Scott said.
Tyler Hatten scored for Oak Ridge to start the game, but Malik Thames and Matthew Hayes knocked down consecutive three-pointers for Pleasant Grove to give the visitors an early 6-2 lead. After Oak Ridge cut the lead to one, Pleasant Grove went on a 10-point run and led 16-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Trailing 20-10 mid-way through the second period, Troy put in three free throws and Grant Dean made a jumper to pull the Trojans within five before Marquese Criss made a layup and the Eagles led 22-15.
Oak Ridge rallied in the third quarter as Connor Sende converted a step-back jumper and spun to the basket for a layup. Josh Simms, who led the Trojans with 11 points, drove to the hoop for a bucket as Oak Ridge trailed 26-21. Thames answered with a jumper, but Sende came right back with a 3-point play and Dean knocked through a three-pointer as Oak Ridge headed into the fourth quarter trailing 30-27.
Bryan Bare opened with a basket but Pleasant Grove ran off the next six and eventually went up nine before a quick six-point spurt had Troy behind by only three points with six ticks left. The Trojans fouled, looking for a rebound and last second shot to tie, but Hayes made both free throws to end all chances for the improbable comeback.
“We can’t score 37 points against teams like Pleasant Grove. We held them to 42, which is great, but we had to score 43, and we couldn’t do that. Nobody really got a big shot for us tonight at critical junctures in the game when we needed it,” coach Scott said.
Oak Ridge (3-3, 13-10) now attempts to clinch a playoff berth with a game at Folsom tonight and a matchup against Jesuit at home on Wednesday. The Trojans won the first matchups against each team.