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Kingsmen stumble at crunch time

Putnam drops a heartbreaker to Lakeridge

MILWAUKIE - Victory was so close in a Jan. 15 boys basketball game with Lakeridge that the Rex Putnam Kingsmen could taste it.

Trailing by as many as 14 points in the first quarter, the Kingsmen rallied back to tie the score with two minutes left. And when Derek Ridder cashed in on a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, it knotted the score at 53-53 and the Kingsmen appeared to have the momentum to pull out the victory.

But it was not to be, as Lakeridge junior wing Chris Hoch scored off an inbounds pass with three seconds remaining to earn the Pacers a hard fought 55-53 victory.

What made the sting of the loss all the more painful was that it was not the Kingsmen's first loss in a close game. Just four days earlier they were within three points of defending Three Rivers League champion Lake Oswego with a minute remaining when they turned the ball over in a 59-53 loss.

'That was a game we wish we could have had back,' Putnam assistant coach Tyler Rose said of the Lakeridge game. 'Lakeridge got a big jump on us. They came ready to play, while we started out sluggish.

'We had turnover-after-turnover in the first quarter. They went up by 14 and we were fighting an uphill battle the rest of the way.'

The Kingsmen had 22 turnovers in the game, eight of them in the first quarter.

Senior post Ali Mihub had a big night in defeat, scoring a game-high 23 points and hauling down seven rebounds.

Kevin Schwartz and Jake Rickert had four assists apiece. Rickert and Ridder both came up with three steals; Chris Hanson came off the bench to corral five rebounds.

Senior wing Tyler Larsen paced the Pacers in scoring with 19 points.

The Kingsmen (7-7, 1-3) came up short again of Friday, bowing to Clackamas 65-51. It was still a three-point game heading into the final period, but Putnam's cause was hurt by turnovers and by cold shooting down the stretch (3-of-10 from the field in the fourth quarter).

Jake Rickert (18 points) and Ali Mihub (16 points) paced the Kingsmen in the losing effort.

Putnam plays South Salem on the road this Friday, and the Kingsmen meet top-ranked Oregon City (14-1, 3-0) on the road next Tuesday.