Lakers edge 4th-ranked Jesuit

by: Vern Uyetake, Joe Cramer rolls around a screen. Cramer had 14 points and six rebounds in the loss. Graham Moredock also had 14 points for Lakeridge.

In the past, the Lake Oswego girls basketball team always opted for a balanced team approach as the formula for winning games. New coach Jason Fawcett has chosen a similar philosophy, but he's not adverse to letting someone step up and carry the team occasionally.

Last Friday, it was Margaret Johnson's turn as the senior forward scored 21 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to lead Lake Oswego to a come-from-behind 56-54 non-league victory over Jesuit.

It was one of Johnson's best games ever and Fawcett wasn't a bit surprised to see it happen in a big game.

'She's slowly finding out what she can do,' Fawcett said of his high-scoring forward. 'This was a good game for her, but I'll bet there will be a few more (games that are) even better.'

Even more impressive was the fact that Johnson turned in that game against Jesuit, which has become one of Lake Oswego's main rivals. It seems that these two teams can't get enough of each other.

'If we could invite them back tomorrow night, and Sunday and Monday, we would,' Fawcett said. 'We want to see how good we are and we want to play against the best.'

Lake Oswego entered the game ranked No. 3 in the state while Jesuit was No. 4. And the fans got their money's worth as the game featured 12 lead changes and seven ties. Seven of those lead changes came in the fourth quarter.

The last lead change came with 29 seconds left when Johnson scored on an inside spin move and was fouled. She then converted the free throw to put Lake Oswego ahead for good at 55-54.

The Crusaders had a chance to regain the lead on their next possession but Meaghan White came up empty after making a nice inside move with 18 seconds left.

To preserve time, Jesuit quickly fouled Lake Oswego's youngest starter, sophomore point guard Sarah Griffin, with 13.5 seconds left. Griffin promptly missed her first attempt from the line but hit her second to put Lake Oswego ahead 56-54.

Even though she finished the game with just three points, Griffin showed the poised of an older player.

'It was her first home game on the varsity and she could have been freaked out, but she did a real nice job directing the show for us,' Fawcett said of Griffin.

Jesuit still had a chance to tie, or maybe even win, but Laura Nilsen's jumper from just inside the three-point line was slightly off the mark and caromed out of bounds with five seconds left. The Lakers were then able to run out the remaining time.

Jesuit coach Kathy Adelman Naro was surprised that at least one of those final two shots didn't fall for the Crusaders.

'White had a great move (on the next to last play) and it just didn't go in,' the coach said. 'And Laura Nilsen's a great shooter and she missed that shot.'

The difference was, '(Lake Oswego) made their last couple shots and we didn't,' Naro said.

Jesuit also hurt its chances by making just 8 of 16 free throws in the second half.

'I think we could have pulled away a little bit if we had made our free throws,' the Crusaders' coach added.

Then again, Jesuit really didn't have an answer for Johnson, a 5-foot-11 forward who will play for the University of Santa Barbara next year. She played her best game of the season and she was three points shy of the career-high 24 points she scored in a playoff game against Redmond two years ago.

But Johnson got off to somewhat of a slow start against Jesuit, scoring just two points in the first quarter. However, her teammates started quickly as the Lakers jumped to an early 8-2 lead. That represented Lake Oswego's largest lead of the game.

The Crusaders then turned the game around with a 10-2 run that featured two three-pointers by White and a pair of two-pointers by Taylor Towne. That gave Jesuit its first lead of the game at 12-10.

Jesuit then led almost the entire second quarter and enjoyed a five-point lead on two occasions. Johnson scored six points in that period to help keep the Lakers within striking distance. But Jesuit still led 29-25 at intermission after a layup by Erin McDonnell.

Jesuit, which also led for most of the third quarter, had its biggest lead of the night when Nilsen hit a jumper to make it 37-31 with 5:21 left in the third.

The margin could have been even bigger if not for the eight third-quarter points by Lake Oswego's Avery Lee. She finished the game with 10 points and was the only other Laker besides Johnson to score in double figures.

Lake Oswego started making its move late in the third when Johnson converted a three-point play to tie the game at 38. That started a string of four ties during the next four minutes.

It was at that point that Johnson took over. Three of the four baskets she scored in the final period gave the Lakers the lead.

But Jesuit always seemed to have an answer.

The Crusaders had their last lead of the game when White hit a three-pointer to make it 52-50 with 1:36 left. White lead the Crusaders with 14 points while Caroline Lilley added 11.

Afterward, Fawcett found it hard to suppress his excitement, but he knows it's still early in the season.

'This means nothing when we get up tomorrow morning,' the coach said. 'It was a good reward for them and they put in a lot of hard work, but it's just another day tomorrow.'