TRACY — Scott Sanchez had a sinking, yet good feeling halfway through the fourth quarter of his Oak Ridge High boys basketball team’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff opener Wednesday at West.
With 5:34 left in the game and West leading 44-42 after forward Robert Mason completed a 3-point play, Trojan guard Sean O’Donnell hit a three-pointer that gave the Trojans a 45-44 lead.
“When Sean hit that three right there — that’s when I knew we were going to win,” Sanchez said. “We were going to win without question.”
Oak Ridge, the No. 13 seed, did need a few more key plays, including one by Sanchez, to upset the No. 4 Wolfpack, Tri-City Athletic League runnerups, 60-54 at Steve Thornton Gym.
The win sends the Trojans (15-12) into the second round of the playoffs tonight at Bethel of Vallejo, the No. 5 seed that posted an 81-62 win over Granite Bay. The Oak Ridge-Bethel winner will play Sheldon-Burbank winner in the semifinals Wednesday, Feb. 29 at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, formerly known as Arco Arena.
Sanchez was one of two Troy players who scored in double figures with 14 points, including a key bucket inside the paint with 4:12 left to break a 47-all tie.
West retied the game less a minute later when senior forward Robert Mason followed his own miss but Oak Ridge responded when Bryce Scott scored near the baseline with 2:14 left to give the Trojans the lead for good and in final minute Scott was fouled each time he touched the ball — resulting in 7-of-8 free throws. Scott, who finished with 25 points, scored Troy’s final nine points.
The win was critical for Oak Ridge, especially since its seniors who hadn’t tasted playoff success before Wednesday’s win.
“We haven’t won a (first-round) playoff game,” Sanchez said. “There was no way we’re going winless in the playoffs in our high school career.”
After being held to eight points in the first quarter, the Trojans picked up the pace in the second. Oak Ridge was aggressive on the boards and forced West into four turnovers. Sanchez scored six of the Trojans’ 24 points in the quarter that led to a 32-25 halftime lead.
“The energy picked up,” Sanchez said. “They (West) came out with a lot of energy but we just out-worked them (in the second quarter).”
Added Oak Ridge coach Steve Scott, “We had a great second quarter. We trimmed it up defensively. We had some easy baskets, got back into the game. We needed to get going.”
Troy led the entire third quarter but the Wolfpack kept knocking down baskets and stayed within three, 42-39, entering the fourth.
“A lot of these guys have never been in a playoff game before,” coach Scott said. “It takes awhile to settle in, we’re on the road.”
Oak Ridge had 28 rebounds while West pulled down 19. The Trojans committed eight turnovers while the Wolfpack was guilty of seven.
Behind Bryce Scott and Sanchez, O’Donnell and Connor Sende scored five points each, Brandon Williams and Howard had four each and Josh Simms tallied three points. Senior guard Damon Sloan had 14 points to lead the ‘Pack, while Mason had 12 and Kenneth Daye, eight.
Tip-off for Friday’s second-round game is 7 p.m.