For two quarters, the Lake Oswego girls basketball team looked like an even match-up for fourth-ranked Clackamas.
But in the third quarter, the Cavs proved why they are highly ranked as they turned up the pressure on their full-court press and raced to an easy 56-38 victory last Friday in the league opener for both teams.
Although the final score was discouraging, the first half proved their Lakers are capable of hanging with the league's best teams. But to do so, the Lakers will probably have to play at a peak performance level for four quarters and that didn't happen on Friday.
'We did our homework on them and did what we were supposed to do. And for the first half, we played the basketball that we wanted to be playing,' said Lake Oswego's Shannon Reader, who lead all scorers with 17 points.
Despite getting off to a slow start, the Lakers managed to trade baskets with the highly touted Cavaliers for most of the first half. Clackamas led 23-22 at the break but the Lakers could have taken the lead into the locker room if not for a number of misses from close range.
Seemingly, all of that homework on the Lakers' part should have helped them in the second half as well. But the Cavs threw the host Lakers a curve ball in the third quarter when they switched from a soft full-court press to an intense full-court press. That led to one turnover after another as Lake Oswego was often fortunate just to advance the ball past half-court.
'In the first half, we were able to execute most of our stuff,' Lake Oswego coach Paula Pietrok noted. 'But (in the third quarter) when they really clamped down on that initial entry (inbounds), that's when we got ourselves in trouble. Because, all of a sudden we were pinned on the baseline and they came at us hard.'
Pietrok's assessment was almost an understatement. Against the full-scale press, the Lakers had trouble just holding onto the ball. And when they tried against that kind of pressure, it turned into one easy basket after another for the Cavs.
Clackamas started the third period with 11 unanswered points before Reader was able to stem the tide somewhat with an inside basket at the 4:46 mark, which cut Clackamas' lead to 34-24. Clackamas then added a string of eight straight points before Reader scored the last basket of the period.
Clackamas outscored Lake Oswego 19-4 in that quarter and it wound up being the difference in the game. In that quarter, the Cavs looked like the best team in the state.
'They're a very good team and they executed, found the open player and made their lay-ups,' Pietrok said.
'They've got all of the elements in terms of an inside presence and outside with the guards … You can tell they've played together for a while and they're comfortable knowing where to go on the court.'
The biggest thorn in Lake Oswego's side was point guard Cameron Calhoun. She does a great job of distributing the ball and does a good job of shooting on the run. But her biggest contribution against Lake Oswego came on defense where she used her quick hands to pick up a number of steals.
The Cavs also have a nice frontline combo that features the outside shooting of Becky Buhler and the hard-nosed post-up play of Alyssa Griggs.
Reader did an admirable job of offsetting the play of Buhler and Griggs. The Lake Oswego star scored on a number of strong inside moves and she highlighted her night with an impressive cross-over move that left Griggs wondering what had happened.
The Lakers' chances would have improved dramatically if Becky Luetjen, the team's second-leading scorer for the season, had been available for action. Unfortunately, she spent the night on the sidelines in street clothes after suffering severe ankle sprain the previous week during the Interstate Shootout.
Miranda Babcock-Krenk picked up some of the slack with a solid game at both ends of the floor. But overall, the Lakers just didn't have enough scoring opportunities to keep up with the fast-paced Cavs.
'I think the conditioned team won,' Reader said. 'You could see it in that third quarter. Everyone could just feel their stomachs drop.'
Despite the lopsided final score and the apparent need for better conditioning, the Lakers appear to be moving in the right direction.
'We just keep improving and that's been our plan all along - just to get better each game,' Pietrok said. 'They're finally understanding … that when they play with patience and discipline, they're going to have success.'