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Pacer boys struggle early in tournament

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

The Pacers got off to a rather inauspicious start at their own tournament. After dropping their opening round game to a talented Tigard squad 62-53, the Pacers fell apart in the second half against Gresham, falling 66-48.

Against the Tigers, Lakeridge held its own in the first half and only trailed 30-25 at the break. The Tigers then used solid defense to pull away in the third quarter and went up by 10 heading into the final period.

Joe Cramer led all scorers in the game with 18 points and Brian Luevano added 11, but Tigard's balanced attack was too much in the end.

That loss set up Tuesday's game against Gresham, a quick, scrappy and undersized team. The Gophers kept pace with Lakeridge's quick guards throughout the evening but the key in the game was Gresham's dominance on the boards despite the fact that the team's tallest player checked in at 6'3.

It took a while for the Pacers' struggles to catch up with them. A pair of three-point shots from Cramer helped Lakeridge jump out to an 8-2 lead.

Gresham then scored six straight points to tie the game thanks, in large part, to offensive rebounds. Kenan Ozgur was an early bright spot for the Pacers. He had two of his team's four rebounds in the opening quarter to go along with four points and a pair of steals.

Brett Klitz also added back-to-back hoops as Lakeridge rebuilt a six-point lead, but a late three-pointer by Gresham made the score 16-13 after the first period.

The Gophers took control of the game early in the second quarter. Continued woes on the boards combined with poor transition defense allowed Gresham to go on a 10-0 run. A Cramer hoop with four minutes to go in the half broke the drought, but Gresham eventually made it a 14-2 run and took a nine-point lead.

In the quarter, Lakeridge turned the ball over five times before the Gophers even tallied one turnover. Finally, with just minutes remaining in the half, post Graham Moredock knocked down a pair of buckets.

Ozgur continued to be a presence in the paint, pulling down an offensive rebound and converting a lay-up. The Pacers closed the half on an 8-0 run of their own to narrow the deficit to 27-26.

Lakeridge was probably fortunate to only be down by one point considering how things went in the first half but Gresham made the hosts pay early in the third quarter.

Both teams continued to push the ball up the court at a blistering pace, which led to some easy hoops and also some careless turnovers.

The Gophers went on a 16-6 run to open up an 11-point lead. Things could have been worse but the Pacers did succeed in forcing eight turnovers in the quarter. Tyler Larsen recorded three steals by himself in the quarter.

Lakeridge also continued its attempt to feed 6'9 post Graham Moredock and he had six points in the quarter but the Pacers also missed a number of shots from point blank range and Gresham took a 10-point lead into the final period.

The Gophers put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run. Lakeridge went cold and also turned the ball over seven times in the period.

Luevano scored the team's first field goal of the quarter with 3:43 remaining in the game. Moments later, Klitz came through with a three-point shot to cut the lead to 12, but that is as close as the Pacers would get for the rest of the game.

Gresham responded with a lay-up, a steal and another easy hoop and the visitors were also solid from the free throw line all night.

Cramer had 14 points and six rebounds in the game. Moredock had 14 points and five boards and Ozgur had nine points and seven rebounds.

After a brief lay-off for Christmas, the Pacers will then compete in the annual Les Schwab Tournament, a four-day event that always draws some of the top teams in the state.