Although there are still two games to go for the majority of the teams in the Three Rivers League, the four playoff berths have been locked up. Lake Oswego punched its ticket into the postseason with a solid 52-44 victory over Lakeridge on Friday, sweeping the season series in the process.
The Lakers got off to a quick start in the game and put together one of their best efforts of the season in what was an exceedingly important contest. Had the Pacers come away with a victory, there was a good chance that the two teams would meet again in a one-game playoff for the league's final postseason berth.
But Lake Oswego was on its game, winning in a more orthodox way than it did when the teams met previously.
In the Lakers' earlier win, the team shot down Lakeridge from the outside as Kate Childs poured in a career-high 20 points.
This time, Lake Oswego went to its bread and butter, getting the ball into its post Shannon Reader and letting her dominant the paint. The Lakers' two top scorers, Reader and Becky Luetjen combined for 37 of their team's 52 points.
'It was a complete turnaround. I'm glad we were able to take care of business. This game had a playoff atmosphere to it,' Laker coach Paula Pietrok said.
Reader had a game-high 23 points in one of her best outings of the season but the entire Lake Oswego team did a solid job holding onto the ball and threading passes to its scorers.
'We did a good job getting the ball to (Reader) and she finished well. Every team tries to take our inside game away from us so it was uplifting,' Pietrok said.
The Lakers built a 30-16 lead at the half as Lakeridge struggled shooting the ball all evening.
'We had trouble scoring. Our shots just weren't falling and every time we'd hit a bucket it seemed like Shannon would answer it,' Pacer coach Mike Melin said.
Both teams have been dealing with sickness and four of the Pacers' top players have been hindered by injuries.
Lexi Ross, Kai Schmidt and Courtney Bird, who have all been nicked up recently, all played and combined to score 25 of their team's points.
But, on this night, Lakeridge simply couldn't get much going on offense. The Pacers were able to cut into the deficit slightly in the third period and played some of its best basketball late in the game but Lake Oswego handled the adjustments the Pacers made and held on for the big victory.
'It was nice to have a shot in the fourth quarter. We held together but they matched our adjustments,' Melin said.
On Tuesday night, the Pacers picked up a nice win over Milwaukie 60-46. Lakeridge had a slim 22-16 advantage at the break but then scored more in the third quarter than it did in the entire first half.
Four Pacers scored in double figures as Schmidt led the way with 17 points, followed by Bird with 15, Kayla Glanville with 12 and Kiersten McNairy with 10.
Lakeridge put the game away after three quarters and was able to clear its bench down the stretch as it held on for the victory.
Meanwhile, Lake Oswego put together another solid effort in a 50-40 loss at the hands of first place Oregon City. The result was much closer than when the two teams previously met.
Oregon City took control in the opening quarter, leading 15-6 at the end of the first quarter but, from that point on, the game was virtually even as the Lakers refused to let the Pioneers run away with the game.
Reader and Luetjen each had 12 points for Lake Oswego and the Lakers actually outscored Oregon City 23-22 in the second half.
Making the playoffs is a nice capper to what has been a trying season for Lake Oswego. After losing four starters from last year's team which qualified for the state playoffs, the Lakers struggled through arguably the most difficult preseason schedule of any team in the state.
But Lake Oswego has been playing some of its best basketball recently and, in all likelihood, will be the Three Rivers League's fourth seed.
'I think making the playoffs was a team goal. We get a little better with each game and the girls should be given a lot of credit,' Pietrok said.
That would probably mean a first-round playoff game at Reynolds.
Lake Oswego 14 16 8 14: 52
Lakeridge 7 9 10 18: 44
Reader 23, Luetjen 14, Sullivan 9, Babcock-Krenk 3, Childs 3, Blakeley, Prince, Herald.
Ross 10, Bird 8, Glanville 8, Schmidt 7, McNairy 6, Dungey 5, Costello, Teton, Hopkins, Knecht.