• Lake Oswego freshman standout rises to the challenge of playoffs

Kevin Love hasn't turned Lake Oswego High into a dynasty yet, but it's not for lack of trying.

Love has led the eighth-ranked Lakers to second place in the Three Rivers League race (10-3, 16-7 overall) going into Thursday's final game of the regular season against St. Helens.

The 6-8, 240-pound freshman is averaging 21 points and 14.5 rebounds per game despite defenses collapsing on the wunderkind offspring of former NBA player Stan Love.

'We have had our ups and downs,' says Love, who ranks fourth in the state in scoring. 'Teams pack it in with three, four guys on me sometimes. I'm criticized sometimes for not scoring more, but people don't see what else I do to affect a game.'

Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff does.

'I don't think there is a kid in the state who has played better than Kevin this season,' Shoff says. 'In our league, coaches are going to find a way to slow any player down. When you play Lake Oswego, the word is 'Stop Kevin Love.' They are so worried about him, our other guys are getting open -2- and 4-foot looks.

'But Kevin dominates a game even when he doesn't score 20 points. I've never seen a kid rebound like he does. He has the ability to position himself where the ball is going to be. Though he's not close to being fully mature, his hands are so strong, it boggles my mind.

'And the way he can turn around and sling an outlet pass right on a dime Ñ it's like watching Bill Walton when he was at UCLA.'

High school coaches aren't the only ones watching Love. College scouts from throughout the country have witnessed Laker games this season. UCLA and Oregon Ñ Stan's alma mater Ñ have already offered scholarships. Trail Blazer General Manager John Nash was in the stands Tuesday as Lake Oswego shellacked Milwaukie 83-44.

'He's pretty good,' Nash says. 'For a kid that young, his game is very advanced. He should be a good one.'

If the Lakers advance to the state playoffs as the No. 2 team, they will play host next Wednesday to the No. 3 team in the PIL, Benson, which beat them in December.

Love says he is motivated by the challenge the playoffs presents. That, and the fact he has become the villain for opposing teams' fans this season, drives him.

'I love proving the haters wrong,' he says. 'The way I figure it, we have five more games to get to the state championship. Let's see what happens.'

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