By Dave Tomczak
Local Sports Journal
After a pair of slow starts, one to each half, the Oakridge girls basketball team found its rhythm.
Losing their halftime lead after scoring only three third-quarter points, the Eagles regrouped and rallied for a 36-33 nonconference win over host Mona Shores on Tuesday.
“(This game) was exactly what I expected,” Oakridge coach Terry DeJonge said. “We’ve had to play some good teams but to play a team like Shores – Class A and local – we hope it becomes an every year thing.”
Trailing 28-24 heading into the fourth quarter, Oakridge got some much needed scoring from its point guard, Morgan Giddings.
After a mostly quiet first three quarters, Giddings drilled two 3-pointers, the first tying the game at 30-all, while the second gave the Eagles the lead for good.
“(Morgan), in the beginning wasn’t so hot,” Oakridge’s Keyara Wiard said. “(But) she always ends up getting hot in the end.”
Wiard, who battled with an injured finger all night, hit one-of-two free throws with time winding down in the fourth to give the Eagles the three-point lead, allowing Mona Shores one last chance.
But the Sailors 3-point attempt missed as time expired, giving the Eagles the road win.
“We had good shots to tie the game, we just didn’t knock them down,” Shores coach Brad Kurth said. “Oakridge is a very good team. We don’t like to lose but I don’t feel this is a terrible loss.”
The Sailors (0-1) led early in the game, taking a 13-7 lead after one quarter, but Oakridge (1-0) responded with 14 second- quarter points and took a 21-19 lead into the half.
But it didn’t last long. Mona Shores scored the first six points of the second half, taking the lead for the rest of the quarter as Oakridge struggled and managed only three points.
The Eagles got back into the game in the fourth, not only behind Wiard and Giddings, but by switching up the defense to slow the Sailors down, especially junior forward Jasmyn Walker, who had been doing much of the damage to the Eagles defense by going inside.
“It wasn’t so much our offense that got us back into it as our defense,” DeJonge said. “It was our 2-3 zone, we pushed them outside with our 2-3 zone.”
Wiard finished the game with 20 points to lead Oakridge and Giddings added 10 points.
Walker finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks to lead the Sailors and Meredith Smith added nine points.