Oak Ridge girls win NorCal opener
EL DORADO HILLS — It didn’t have the urgency of a section title game or atmosphere of Power Balance Pavilion but Oak Ridge’s CIF NorCal home opener Wednesday was vastly more important in that the Lady Trojans had to win or call it a season.
With the stakes high for both Troy and Washington High, the game itself fell flat on the intensity meter. While the action was close early, Oak Ridge eventually pulled away for 51-24 victory to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals against Heritage who knocked out fifth-seeded Oakland Tech 53-46.
Scoring-wise, Jenna Klein and Jenn Hoffman each scored nine points while Lauren Sende, Haley Anderson, Nikki Dow and Michelle Barkley all chipped in with five points.
After the Eagles buried a three-pointer to open the third quarter, the Trojans utilized an early timeout to outscore Washington 28-10 the rest of the way.
“That was one of my intense moments when I tried to fire the team up and get them going,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. “With the attendance down the energy in the building in general is deflated and you could see that in our team room too.”
When play resumed, Anderson hit the offensive boards for a rebound and return banker and then took Klein’s pass to rattle home a foul-line jumper. Klein then forced a shot and got the bounce to cap six quick points and the Eagles never recovered.
“I like working in the high post — getting good looks and working the high-low game,” Anderson said. “It did feel like our energy level was down tonight. We have to bring our own because we can’t control how many people come.
The Trojans had the height advantage on Washington and received a combined 19 rebounds off the bench from Jacki Bateman (four points) and Michelle Barkley. Oak Ridge had to feel good about facing the Eagles after an earlier 71-37 win over the San Francisco team at the West Coast Jamboree.
“Even though we beat them before we wanted to respect them because we’d beaten Kennedy and they got us back in the section final,” Anderson said. “It was all about playing our game.”
The Eagles started well in making three of their first four shots to lead 6-3 after Raelyn Cheung-Sutton took a long rebound and drove down on several Trojan defenders to score. Hoffman’s three on Bateman’s inbound pass gave Oak Ridge the lead for good at 9-8 toward the end of the first quarter.
Washington was able to break the Trojan press but faced with Troy’s zone had no offensive answers. The Eagles trailed 12-10 after the first quarter but scored four, six and four points in quarters two, three and four. Defensively, Washington ran its zone after an exclusive man-to-man defense the first time the teams met.
“They played zone and sagged on us which wasn’t totally unexpected,” White said. “For a while it was catch and hold, catch and hold instead of quick passes against the zone.”
White played all of his non-injured players. Lindsay Honaker’s top of the key three-pointer with seconds left sent Oak Ridge to the fourth up 38-20.
Sende scored all five of her points in the final quarter as did Lauren Liebert who contributed the last four on a curl move across the lane and a side jumper.
Despite finishing as the Sac-Joaquin Section runner-up, Troy is seeded fourth which granted them Wednesday’s home date with Washington and another should they prevail.
“That’s respect for our division and the fact we’ve played some tough teams,” White said. “Everything amps up from here. It’s an elite eight but it’s wide open with Berkeley probably the team to beat.”
Berkeley is seeded No. 1. If Oak Ridge wins Saturday the two could meet next Tuesday in the semifinals.