Trojans ousted in round 1 of basketball playoffs

By February 25, 2011

STOCKTON — McNair’s 11-4 run late in the third quarter gave the host team the lead for good and the Eagles, paced by five players in double figures, ended Oak Ridge’s season with a 62-58 victory in the first round of the boys Sac-Joaquin Section Division I basketball playoffs Wednesday night.

After spotting McNair a 7-3 lead early, the Trojans went on an 8-0 tear with buckets from Tyler Simms, Will Findlay (two) and John Cunningham. After Eagle Darro Byrd made two from the line, Bryce Scott’s putback and a desperation shot that fell from McNair ended the first quarter with Oak Ridge up 14-11.

Simms’ corner three on an inbound pass from Scott opened the scoring for Oak Ridge in the second period but McNair answered with a three as neither squad could pull away.

After McNair tied it at 21 on a pair of freebies, Will Findlay’s jumper and Scott’s fast break layup and two from the line gave the Trojans a six-point lead, their biggest of the night.

The lead was short-lived as McNair closed with a 7-4 run to pull even with the Trojans, 31-31, at halftime.

The athletic Eagles upped the tempo in the second half and dominated the boards. Oak Ridge grabbed 13 defensive rebounds in the first two periods but just three on the other end. In the second half, the Trojans managed just eight total.

Oak Ridge hit a dry spell in the third and McNair’s run-and-gun offense took over. Findlay scored down low on a pass from Cunningham and Scott went end-to-end for two for the only points Troy put up in the last three minutes of the period.

The Trojans still had fight left and made it a one-point game, 47-46, in the final eight minutes after Scott hit DJ Leszczynski and Simms for back-door cuts and Cunningham picked the pocket of a McNair player and dished to Scott Sanchez for two.

McNair still held a two-point lead after Matt Howard’s steal, coast-to-coast basket and subsequent layup, but after a timeout with 1:12 left, the game was decided at the free throw line as McNair closed on a 9-for-11 effort. Scott kept it close, scoring seven in the last 33 seconds, including a three from the top.

Scott finished with a game-high 21 points to pace Troy while Findlay and Simms each added 10. Cunningham scored six, Howard put up five, Leszczynski added four and Sanchez had two.

Byrd, Eric Duncan and Xavier Anders each scored 12 for the Eagles; Marcus Cotton and Thomas Wallace chipped in 10 apiece.

McNair, the No. 5 seed and winner of the Tri City League, moves on to play No. 4 Granite Bay Friday in the second round.

Oak Ridge ended its first season in Division I in third place in the Delta River League with a 5-5 record, 21-6 overall.

“I love my team,” Trojan coach Bob Christensen said after the game. “We’ve spent a lot of time together and they care — it’s tough to see them lose. We had opportunities but we hit that bad stretch in the third quarter … Overall it was good season — a lot of great memories.”

Liz Kane


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