By Tyler Schmidt
Mother Lode News correspondent
SHINGLE SPRINGS — The Ponderosa girl’s basketball team celebrated Senior Night at home against intra-county rival Oak Ridge Friday night for the final Delta River League game of the season.
In a packed gym in front of an enthusiastic Bruin crowd, Ponderosa honored its two seniors Nikki Johnson and Bethany Farmer and then took the floor with energy hoping to end the season with a victory.
But after falling behind 18 points, a valiant fourth-quarter comeback attempt fell short for the Bruins. In the end, the Trojans ended the regular season on a four-game win streak with a 67-51 victory.
Oak Ridge finished second in the DRL with an 8-2 record. After losing their top scorer, Ali Ryan, who suffered a knee injury in the last preseason game, the Lady Bruins fought through adversity to finish fourth with a 4-6 record and earn a berth in the playoffs.
Johnson dominated the low post early, using a variety of shots to help the Bruins race out to a 20-12 lead after one quarter of play. But the Trojans tightened up their defense in the second quarter and made a run of their own, slowly climbing back into the game and taking the lead behind the post play and offense from Katie Hoisington and Lauren Sende.
At the half Oak Ridge held a comfortable 37-26 lead.
Troy didn’t let up the defensive pressure in the third, outscoring and out-rebounding the Bruins. Oak Ridge’s Natalie Stone took the ball to the dish on multiple occasions drawing foul after foul and connecting on her free throws to lead the Trojans to an 18-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Bruins made a big comeback in the final eight minutes led by Johnson and Ashley Beck. But the Oak Ridge offense countered and the defense held
“It was like a roller coaster out there tonight. Ponderosa came out on fire, then we were able to make a run in the third and finish it off with another run in the fourth to cap the win,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said.
For the Bruins, Johnson scored a game-high 20 points in her final game as a Bruin. She was followed by Beck and Jennifer Curto who both contributed 12 points.
Stone led the way for the Trojans with 17 points, Hoisington added 16 and Carly Benttencourt put up 10.
Oak Ridge, ranked fifth in the lastest power ratings, opens the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs at home this week. The Bruins, in the 14th spot in Division II, will open on the road. The section Website, cifsjs.org, will post the brackets at 2 p.m. Sunday.