Oak Ridge’s gritty second-half attempt to overtake Monte Vista fell short Saturday and the host Trojans were eliminated from the NorCal playoffs after a 54-42 loss to the Mustangs.
Though Oak Ridge (26-6) trimmed a once 15-point deficit to two in the fourth quarter, Monte Vista scored 15 of the last 20 points to triumph as Troy was unable to convert in the final 2:24.
“You could tell our girls were nervous and just didn’t attack it like we normally do,” Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. “You have to give them (Mustangs) credit — they have three really good players who rose to the occasion. Being a high seed is a blessing but a curse in that you have to wait to play. Monte Vista had their ugly game earlier this week … and won … ours was tonight and we didn’t.”
The Mustang’s zone pushed Trojan shooters outside their comfort zone. Oak Ridge did make three three-pointers but missed more than a dozen others. Monte Vista threes — two after fourth quarter timeouts, proved costly.
“We just didn’t get the bounce tonight while they (Mustangs) created a lot of good luck with their energy and effort,” White said. “It was hard to simulate their zone (at practice) because we don’t have the length. If we had to play it over I think we’d attack the seams more and look for the kick out.”
Oak Ridge fell behind quickly but rolled out its pressure defense to limit the visitors to six, second-quarter points.
Monte Vista quickly extended its 23-16 halftime lead with five quick points to open the third, part of a 7-0 run. The Trojans finally got going on Michelle Barkley’s putbacks and Ali Bettencourt’s ability to get to the foul line.
Bettencourt, with Barkley’s scoring help, willed their team back in it. The two seniors scored all 13 of Oak Ridge’s third-quarter points but Troy still trailed by 10 with eight minutes left.
“At halftime we knew we had to keep after it because we didn’t want our season to end and have to go home,” Bettencourt said. “We prepared for their zone and knew what we had to do but our shots just didn’t fall. Our season ended much too soon, it really did.”
The spark Oak Ridge needed came from Yumi Drossos who opened the fourth with a three and then made a tough shot in transition on a pass from Shelby Peters.
As Oak Ridge clamped down defensively, Barkley scored inside before Bettencourt made 1-of-2 free throws to get the Trojans to within 39-37.
After a timeout, Monte Vista’s Amanda Dailey sank a three and Madi Burroughs a step-back jumper. Jenn Hoffman stuck a long three from the top to answer and the Trojans were only down four after Barkley’s putback but unfortunately it was the last time Oak Ridge scored.
Barkley led the Trojans with 13 points and 11 rebounds; Bettencourt added 11; Drossos had seven; Grace Derksen, six; Hoffman, three; and Peters, two points.