STOCKTON — No first overtime, no second, no thrilling battle, no section title, no Sleep Train Arena … at least for now.
Oak Ridge’s quest to avenge last year’s double OT loss in the section finals to Kennedy fell well short Thursday at Stockton’s Spanos Center as the Cougars established early control to eliminate the Lady Trojans 65-42 in girls Sac Joaquin semifinal Division I basketball action.
Kennedy broke from an 18-18 tie in the second quarter to dominate the rest of the way. Oak Ridge could still see the Cougars again should both win out in NorCals.
“Ouch, they just out-played us … give them credit, they played good defense and had a good game plan,” Trojan coach Steve White said. “We didn’t play our ‘A’ game which you have to when the other team plays theirs. But it’s not like we became a bad team tonight. We can either cry over spilled milk or make lemonade out of lemons.”
Lynette Johnson brought her ‘A’ game for Kennedy as the senior scored 26 points on 12-of-19 floor. Teammate Dalayna Tyler-Scott chipped in with 16 as the Cougar duo hurt Oak Ridge in the post, scoring 26 of Kennedy’s first-half points as the Cougars shot 66.7 percent, 58 for the game.
“Johnson was on a different level and their rebounds were aggressive,” White said. “We wanted to keep their bigs away from the basket but it didn’t work to our advantage. They’re so well-balanced and we couldn’t stop everything.”
After a slow start, Jenn Hoffman’s three-pointer put Troy on the board as Oak Ridge hung in and saw dividends from its trademark trapping style of play. Ali Bettencourt’s baseline jumper for a 3-point play, a side pop by Yumi Drossos and Bettencourt’s runner kept Oak Ridge within 18-13 at quarter’s end.
Haley Anderson’s spot-up three and Jenna Ford’s drive through the middle tied the score but the Cougars reeled off the next 12 points to seize control. Grace Derksen’s shot off the glass broke Kennedy’s run but the Cougars tallied the next four to lead 34-20 at the half.
The South Sacramento team led by 22 late in the third when Drossos stuck a short jumper and Gabby Flores went in hard for a 3-point play to trail 47-30.
Oak Ridge upped its intensity in the fourth. After a Flores’ free throw shaved another point off the deficit, Kennedy found Katie Lee for back-to-back threes around an Anderson putback as the Cougars, who at one point had a 25-point advantage, held off the Trojans.
“It’s definitely a hard one to swallow, especially for the seniors but we can still make it to Arco (Sleep Train),” Anderson. “We knew they could hit threes so we locked in on that and lost sight of it.”
Hoffman had 10 points for Oak Ridge; Anderson and Bettencourt five each; Ford, Derksen, Drossos and Flores four apiece; and Michelle Barkley and Sydney Stigerts three points each.