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Lakers sweep well-played Civil War games

LO boys rally in the fourth quarter to win
by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lakeridge’s Josh Little tries to save a loose ball from going out of bounds during Friday’s one-point loss to Lake Oswego. Little had 12 points in the game and hit a number of clutch shots to keep the Pacers close.

You can generally throw out favorites and underdogs when it comes to Civil War basketball games and that was certainly the case last Friday. Although the Laker boys have been ranked in the top 10 since early in the season and were playing on their home court, Lakeridge gave them all they could handle in a game that went down to the final possession.

In the end, Lake Oswego rallied from a four-point deficit in the final quarter for a 56-55 victory that kept the team undefeated in league heading into a showdown with No. 1 Oregon City.

'I was impressed. They definitely gave us their best shot. I give Lakeridge a lot of credit. They played with a lot of cool. I think they played well enough that they should have won the game,' Laker coach Mark Shoff said.

The game was marked by small momentum shifts and after the first few minutes, neither team could build more than a two-basket lead.

Lakeridge got off to a quick start. Tyler Larsen hit a pair of three-point shots and Chris Hoch made his presence known in the paint, scoring eight first-quarter points, helping the Pacers get out to a 14-9 lead.

But Lake Oswego did a solid job on the boards and hit its first five free throws to take a 20-18 lead after one quarter.

'They came out more intense than we did. We came out flat-footed,' Lake Oswego's Max Jacobsen said.

In the second stanza, the Lakers continued to do a terrific job in the paint. Jacobsen was a force, scoring a pair of put-back baskets while altering numerous Lakeridge shots.

'I told Max after the game that his offensive rebounding was huge,' Shoff said.

After a fast-paced opening quarter, the offense on both teams slowed considerably as open shots came at a premium.

After the break, the Pacers played their best basketball of the game and maybe of the season. Trevan Hertz knocked down an early three-pointer to tie the game and Josh Little scored seven consecutive points, including a steal and lay-up that gave the Pacers a 40-39 advantage.

Meanwhile, Lakeridge played stellar defense, forcing the Lakers to settle for jump shots that weren't falling. Jacobsen continued to be Lake Oswego's saving grace on the offensive glass but Lakeridge managed to take a 44-40 lead into the fourth quarter.

'To our kids' credit, they fought back when it was looking pretty dim. Our guys put a little pressure on and got some key steals and easy baskets because we weren't hitting any outside shots,' Shoff said.

Nick Halberg knocked down an early three-pointer to tie the game at 46 and then the teams started trading baskets.

Elliot Babcock-Krenk scored a lay-up on an assist from Halberg and Hoch answered at the other end. Jacobsen answered for Lake Oswego and the Lakers took a four-point lead with under a minute to play.

'When we're hustling like we did in the last four minutes, we're pretty good but we have to sustain that,' Shoff said.

But, with 30 seconds to go, Little drilled a three-pointer from the baseline after a nice feed from Hertz. Jacobsen was then fouled, putting the post on the line for a pair of crucial free throws. Jacobsen calmly knocked both of them down as Lakeridge set up its final possession.

'I was so nervous shooting those. Those are the hardest free throws I've had to shoot in my entire life,' Jacobsen said.

The Lakers guarded the three-point line closely and with just a few ticks on the clock remaining, Hoch scored a basket inside. However, Lakeridge didn't have a time out left and the clock ran out before the Lakers needed to inbound the ball.

It was a big victory for Lake Oswego as the team will need all the momentum it can get heading into Friday's game against Oregon City. But, despite the disappointment, the Pacers proved that they can play with one of the state's better teams and came very close to tallying a huge victory on the road. Lakeridge will play Milwaukie on Friday.