By Shane Theodore
The Oak Ridge Trojans got the Delta River League schedule off to an ominous start, falling in overtime Wednesday to visiting Pleasant Grove 73-66.
“We played hard, but ultimately, they came out the winner,” Troyan coach Steve Scott said.
Bryce Scott knocked down two free throws with seconds left to send the game to overtime but the extra four-minute session belonged to the Eagles. Led by Malik Thames, Pleasant Grove sprinted out to the first seven points and despite three-pointers by Bryce and Josh Simms, Thames and Co. kept their distance — icing the game with 33 seconds left on two Matthew Hayes’ free throws.
“We were playing from behind the entire overtime and that kept us from playing the game we wanted to play,” coach Scott said.
The Trojans started quickly Wednesday as they led 17-10 with two minutes remaining in the period. Thames, who scored 23 points, brought the deficit to 17-15 to close the first.
“We took early control but were’t able to keep at it,” Oak Ridge’s Scott Sanchez said.
After Colfax Nordquist converted a 3-point play to start the second quarter, Bryce, who led all scorers with 26 points, answered Nordquist’s 3-point play with one of his own and, after Josh Simms pick-pocketed a Pleasant Grove player, Scott kicked the ball to Bryan Bare whose bucket put Troy up 22-18.
The two teams traded points until the minute mark where the Eagles closed the half with 10 unanswered points to give them a 32-28 lead.
“We let off towards the end of the first half, and that ended up costing us,” coach Scott said.
The Trojans took advantage of Pleasant Grove’s knack of fouling to convert eight of their 14 third-quarter points from the charity stripe. Simms scored six in the quarter, along with two assists, to help Troy trim the Pleasant Grove lead to 44-42 entering the final quarter of regulation.
“We were getting into a good groove, but we weren’t able to get it in our hands,” Simms said.
After three stagnant minutes of fourth quarter play, each team caught fire. Sanchez, Bryce and Matt Howard all made key shots to keep Oak Ridge in it, along with Sean O’Donnell, who put through a three with 2:08 left to give Oak Ridge a short-lived lead.
Pleasant Grove continued to answer as Thames, Hayes and Cody Demps all knocked down buckets to keep their team ahead with a minute left before Bryce took the ensuing possession, drove to the basket, drew a foul and put both free throws in to tie it up with 49 ticks remaining.
Thames countered before Bryce tied it with another two freebies to send the game to overtime.
“We played really hard tonight, and I’m proud of our effort. If we can play like that against Folsom (Friday), we’ll win,” Sanchez said.