The visiting Vista del Lago Eagles landed with a thud on the Oak Ridge basketball court Tuesday night as the Trojan varsity team easily triumphed, 65-29, in its home opener.
Strong double-team defense kept Vista del Lago’s shooters from getting good looks at the basket. Troy also took advantage of sloppy passing on their opponents’ part and, in many cases, converted Eagle errors into points.
Senior Bryce Scott led the Trojans with 19 points. He jump-started Troy’s momentum with a three-pointer in the game’s opening minute. Fellow senior Scott Sanchez executed a smooth spin move between defenders in the paint to give Oak Ridge its next two.
Vista followed with its first bucket but the Eagles had little luck scoring again. A Sanchez-driven fast break made it 7-2 and a challenged three put Oak Ridge in double digits before Vista responded with a three of its own. It was the last time the Eagles would score in the quarter as Troy led after one, 20-5.
The Trojans widened their lead in the second, starting with a pass from senior Matt Howard, who found sophomore Sende Connor in the lane for two. Vista turned up the heat, drawing a foul on the other end of the court and nailing both free-throws.
Connor’s next attempt was blocked as the Eagle defense stiffened and with more hands in the air, it was tougher for Oak Ridge to find the bucket in the early minutes. The Trojans still added to the scoreboard with three-of-four free throws.
The Eagles narrowed the gap with a trey and hit one of two from the line on their next possession but Troy’s Josh Simms, Bryan Bare and Connor answered and Scott added two more free throws. Scott and Bare’s heavy defensive pressure allowed the Eagles to score just three more times before the buzzer. Oak Ridge led 37-17 at the half.
The news got worse for Vista in the third as the Trojans’ lead ballooned to nearly 30 points behind the offense of Evan Gross, Grant Dean, Simms, Howard and Scott. At the two-minute mark Dean intercepted an Eagle pass and dished it to Simms, who went coast-to-coast for two — the final basket in the third. Troy’s lead jumped to 53-24.
Wings clipped, the Eagles didn’t score until the three-minute mark of the fourth. Oak Ridge didn’t have the same problem.
Dylan Collie picked up a bounce pass from Simms for two, and Simms took matters into his own hands in the next two possessions to bring Oak Ridge’s score to 59.
In a last-ditch effort to stop the bleeding, Vista kicked up its defense and took advantage of unlucky plays that kept Oak Ridge quiet for a couple of minutes. The Eagles couldn’t convert on a 3-point play but drained a three after forcing an Oak Ridge turnover with a steal.
That was all Oak Ridge needed to regain its composure. Jalan Davis took an inside pass from Gross for two and Gross followed up with an under-handed shot, netting two more at the one-minute mark. Capitalizing on an Eagle turnover, David Ambrose made his first bucket on the game’s final shot of the night. He drew a a foul but his free throw swooped in and out.
Scott led the Trojans, followed by Howard, Bare and Sende, each with six. Dean bucketed five and Sanchez, Sean O’Donnell and Simms netted four apiece. Sanchez, who took two charges in the game, led in rebounds with five and Simms had five assists.
The freshman team opened the night with a 50-41 victory and the junior varsity squad won 74-51.