The Lakeridge boys basketball team fended off a stiff challenge from former league rival Milwaukie on Tuesday to advance to the finals of is Lakeside Holiday Tournament this week.
The Pacers continue to show glimpses of its full potential early in the year, using impressive runs against both Aloha and Milwaukie to earn a trip to the championship game against West Linn.
Against the Warriors in the tournament opener, Lakeridge slogged through a tough first half before burying their opponents in the third quarter.
Turnovers hurt Lakeridge early in the game and the team's shooters didn't heat up until the second half as the Pacers led 22-21 at the break.
But Lakeridge looked like a different team coming out of the locker room.
The Pacers' put the clamps down on defense as the team's pressure caused fits for the Warriors.
Lakeridge outscored Aloha 28-4 in the third quarter to put the game away, cruising to a 63-35 win.
Tom Knecht led the Pacers with 20 points and Michael Walker added 17.
In the semifinals the Pacers took on a solid 5A team in Milwaukie.
As was the case against Aloha, Lakeridge hit shots in the opening minutes but then allowed the Mustangs to come back.
Walker knocked down a pair of three-pointers early and Brandon Loiler scored two hoops to put Lakeridge up 10-2.
But Milwaukie then went on a 12-0 run that was finally stopped on a three-pointer from Madison Pihl.
Turnovers plagued the Pacers in the first half again and Milwaukie turned them into a few easy hoops but Lakeridge still managed to stay tied with the Mustangs at the half.
The Pacers opened the third quarter with another strong burst. Loiler continued to shore up the paint for Lakeridge and the Pacers' pesky guards came up with turnovers to lead a 14-4 run.
But, once again, Milwaukie responded, going on an 8-0 run of its own before Knecht hit a late hoop to put the Pacers up 44-40 with one quarter to play.
Justin Luevano came up with an early three-point play for Lakeridge in the fourth quarter and Pihl added another as the Pacers made an effort to pound the ball inside.
But Lakeridge simply couldn't shake the Mustangs. Two three-pointers from Milwaukie made it a 58-57 game in the closing minutes.
Lakeridge was able to hold on to the ball and force Milwaukie to foul. Luevano then hit a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game.
On Milwaukie's next possession, Luevano provided heavy pressure and came up with a huge steal and was fouled.
He knocked down one more free throw to make it a two-possession game and the Pacers held on for the win.
Lakeridge took on West Linn for the title on Wednesday but results were not available at press time.