LO boys hoping to contend

by: FILE PHOTO / VERN UYETAKE Lake Oswego’s Calvin Hermanson is expected to be one of the top players in the state this season.

The Lake Oswego boys basketball team will only have one practice together at full strength before playing its season opener but once the team rounds into game shape, the Lakers could very well emerge as a state title contender this season.

Nearly half of Lake Oswego's varsity squad is still playing football. Knowing that the Laker football team routinely makes a run late into the postseason, the team opted not to play in a game until this Tuesday, starting considerably later than any other team in the state, since dropping non-league contests can dramatically impact a team's RPI ranking.

But Lake Oswego is returning nine players with significant varsity experience and boasts an exceptionally deep and athletic squad.

The Lakers will be led by Calvin Hermanson, a dynamic player who is receiving plenty of Division I attention.

"He should be one of the top players in the state. He's a good 6'6" and he's got really long arms. He'll be a tough match-up for most teams," coach Mark Shoff said.

The Lakers also expect another big season out of guard Connor Griffin whose size and ball-handling ability make him a dangerous offensive threat.

Shoff says there isn't currently much separation between his top 11 or 12 players and, as such, most of the roster figures to get minutes particularly early in the season.

Blake Quarterman also returns for Lake Oswego along with TJ Dorado and Daniel Verburg, who will share point guard duties for the team.

Jack Anderson and Mitch Lomax will also play key roles on this year's team and Laker quarterback Alex Matthews, who took last season off from basketball, is out for the team again this year.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do. I've always been a big believer in kids playing multiple sports. What those guys are experiencing in football this year can only carry over," Shoff said.

Jason Luhnow moves up from JV this year and has been impressive early on with his outside shooting and Colin Caslick also returns with experience.

As was the case last year, Lake Oswego will look to play up-tempo this season but will look to have more structure.

"We put a lot on the kids' shoulders last year. This year we're trying to make things a little more cut and dry. A lot of the changes we've made were because of what happened in the West Linn game last year," Shoff said, referring to the playoff game that knocked the Lakers out of the playoffs one game before the state tournament.

Lake Oswego figures to be one of the more athletic teams in the state and has multiple weapons both on offense and defense.

The team will play in the annual Red Bluff Tournament and the Les Schwab Invitational and will see plenty of strong competition in the preseason as it looks to test itself for a playoff run.

"I think there are four or five teams that could realistically win it this year and I'd like to say we're one of them," Shoff said.

Lake Oswego will enter the year as favorites in the Three Rivers League but should receive challenges from young West Linn and Clackamas teams as well as a fundamentally sound Lakeridge squad.