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Pacer rally comes up just short

by: File Photo / Vern Uyetake, 
Kiersten McNairy had a solid game with 11 points against a strong Clackamas team. Lakeridge lost the game by 10 points after rallying from 23 down.

The good news for the Lakeridge girls basketball team is that, on Tuesday, it showed it can come back from a 23-point deficit against one of the better teams in the state. The bad news is that the Pacers let themselves fall behind by 23 points in the first place and couldn't complete the monumental comeback in a 75-65 loss to Clackamas.

The Cavaliers were coming off a difficult loss to West Linn which knocked them into third place. Coach Mike Melin was concerned that Clackamas would come out angry in an attempt to rebound quickly from the loss and, in the early going, his worst fears were confirmed.

The Cavaliers played arguably the best five minutes of their season to begin the game, hitting virtually every shot they threw up. Clackamas hit from the outside with Becky Buhler knocking down four deep jump shots, and the Cavaliers worked the ball inside for lay-ups too.

Lakeridge could only hope to weather the storm.

'For a while I thought they were going to rip us apart. I haven't seen a team shoot like that in five or six years,' Melin said.

Eventually the Cavaliers did cool down and Lakeridge was able to slowly crawl back into the game. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the Pacers' efforts on the boards.

Lexi Ross and Kiersten McNairy battled with Clackamas' big posts all evening and more than held their own. McNairy played one of her better games of the year, scoring 11 points while Ross had, undoubtedly her best output of the season.

Ross, a sophomore in her first year of high school basketball, led her team with 17 points and pulled down 19 rebounds, preventing second opportunities for the Cavaliers.

'We did a great job defensively and our rebounding was outstanding,' Melin said.

As a result, Lakeridge was able to cut the lead to 11 points at the half.

The Pacers continued to chip away in the third quarter. Kai Schmidt and Courtney Bird did a solid job running Lakeridge's offense and each had a dozen points in the game.

'We changed up our defense and that helped us creep back in it and we were more patient,' Melin said.

The Pacers cut down on their turnovers, only giving the ball up seven times in the second half, down from 12 in the first.

Lakeridge trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter and then mounted one final run. The Pacers got off to a quick start in the fourth quarter and quickly knocked the deficit down to one possession.

Trailing by three points, Lakeridge had a few opportunities to draw even closer and, with a few breaks, could have taken the lead.

'We missed a few free throws and a had a bad turnover or two. We really had an opportunity to pull of a stunner,' Melin said.

But Clackamas rebounded and Lakeridge couldn't sustain its high energy in the closing minutes of the game. The Cavaliers hit 16 of 18 free throws down the stretch, making the comeback difficult.

The loss came after a convincing 70-27 pounding of a struggling Milwaukie team. Lakeridge was able to get 12 players into the game and 11 of them scored with Schmidt and Kayla Glanville leading the way, scoring 11 points apiece.

'It was nice to have a game were everyone contributed. We just wanted to take care of business,' Melin said. The Pacers held a 41-13 advantage at the half to sew up the victory early.

Lakeridge will take on West Linn in a crucial game for the Pacers on Tuesday. The Lions are currently in second place in the TRL.