The Lakers return a loaded squad and hope to avenge last years second-place finish

The Lake Oswego boys basketball team enters the season after making an appearance in the state title game last year and nearly toppling Jesuit for the championship. And the Lakers return last season's Oregon Player of the Year, should have a healthy Connor Griffin for the season and are bringing in Christian McDonald from Valley Catholic, one of the top point guards in the state.

With the amount of talent that the team is returning, combined with its new faces, Lake Oswego is a strong contender to capture another title this year.

“When you return the kids we do after playing in the state title game last year your expectations are going to be pretty high but Jesuit's always going to be the team to beat until someone drives a stake in them,” coach Mark Shoff said.

Calvin Hermanson is back for his senior season and the St. Mary's University commit has improved his game even more in the offseason.

“He's going to impress a lot of people with how well he goes to the basket,” Shoff said.

Hermanson will draw plenty of attention from opposing teams but the Lakers possess one of the deepest teams in the state this year.

Along with Griffin, who missed virtually the entire season last year with a knee injury, Lake Oswego returns a pair of experienced wings in Daniel Verburg and Colin Caslick, both of whom can shoot and attack the basket.

Cory Coombe, who saw the bulk of the minutes at point guard last year, also returns and his intensity and work ethic gives the team a boost.

“He's the shortest guy on her team but he's one of our better rebounders just because of how hard he works,” Shoff said.

McDonald, a Lake Oswego resident, should give the team another dimension on both sides of the ball as he heads up what should be a high-paced offense once again.

“He could be one of the best point guards I've ever coached. He's got a great head on him, he can shoot and he can handle the ball with both hands,” Shoff said.

Lake Oswego will also receive the services of a talented foreign exchange student. French-born Natan Jurkovitz joins the Lakers from Switzerland, giving the team a 6'7” post.

“He's still trying to find himself a little but with his size he's definitely going to help us,” Shoff said.

Football standouts Jack Anderson and Mitch Lomax will also join the team in the coming weeks and both bring varsity experience and plenty of athleticism.

Lake Oswego probably won't be playing at full capacity until after the winter break but it will be battle tested heading into league play.

The Lakers will see virtually all of the state's top powers in the preseason. Lake Oswego will play in the annual Red Bluff Tournament again which features a very competitive field this season and will also play in the Les Schwab Invitational.

“Our guys need to know that the target is going to be on their back every game,” Shoff said.

Lake Oswego opens its season next Tuesday against Grant for what it hopes is the beginning of a very memorable year.

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