Oak Ridge girls win three of four at Nike Central Valley Showdown

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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With such a young team, Oak Ridge girls’ basketball coach Steve White was pleased to win three of four games at the Nike Central Valley Showdown last week at Clovis West High School.

The Trojans won its first three games of the tournament before losing the final game.

Oak Ridge opened the tournament Thursday with a 53-46 win against Palo Verde, a team from Las Vegas. The team had a horrible second quarter and trailed by nine at halftime, but rebounded with an equally impressive third quarter. Oak Ridge outscored Palo Verde, 27-2, in the third quarter to take a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter, before holding on for the seven-point win. Megan McConnell led the team with 15 points. Teagan Brown finished with 12 points, while Erica Ingram scored 10.

“It was a 3 ½-hour drive down there and we played like we were sitting on a bus for 3 ½ hours,” White said. “We were fortunate to win a game like that and it was a good lesson for the team to learn.”

On Friday, the Trojans defeated Fresno, 58-41. Brown led the team with 13 points, while Sophie Olson added 11, and Isabel Andaya finished with 10. It was the play of Lauren Helwig, however, that was key for the team. The junior point guard handled pressure for most of the game and did a great job controlling the tempo and running the offense without turning over the ball.

In Saturday’s opening game, the Trojans topped Valley Christian, 61-56. It was a back-and-forth game from the start, and in the end the Trojans came out on top by five. Ingram scored all 17 of her points in the second half to lead the team. Brown finished with 13, while Helwig scored 11.

In the final game of the day and the tournament, the Trojans ran out of gas and lost to Clovis North, 75-53.

“They were similar to our game against Clovis West last week in that they pressured us the whole game and ran 10-12 people at us,” White said. “We got the game down to seven points, but they quickly turned a seven-point game into a 14 or 15-point game and we just couldn’t recover.”

For her play throughout the tournament, Helwig earned all-tournament honors. All in all, it was a solid performance for the Trojans.

“We’re asking the players to do fundamental things in practice and they do them, but in live action it’s not connecting yet,” White said. “When they start doing what we ask them to do in practice during games, maybe games like Clovis North can be winnable as the team improves.”

The Trojans (3-2) will travel to Lincoln High School in Stockton this week for the Trojan Clash tournament. Oak Ridge opens the tournament at 5 p.m. Thursday against Tracy with games following on Friday and Saturday.