During the ritual post-game handshakes after Tuesday's 20-point loss to Oregon City, Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff had one message for the Pioneers' star guard, Brad Tinsley.
'I told him, 'I'm glad you're outta of here after four years,' ' Shoff said, probably in a semi-joking manner. 'Just like I'm sure everyone was glad to see Kevin (Love) go, and I'm glad to see (Tinsley) go.'
It's nothing personal against Tinsely, who is winding up his senior season. In fact, everyone who knows him, likes him.
But he has a way of ruining an opponent's night, just like Love did for four years. It's no wonder that so many Division I colleges are lining up in an attempt to offer Tinsley a scholarship.
It's questionable whether Lake Oswego would have had a chance to win Tuesday's game if Tinsley had turned in a mediocre effort. In reality, it's a mote point because Tinsley doesn't play mediocre games. He's delivers a knockout punch to everyone he plays and did it Tuesday night to the Lakers, while scoring a team-high 23 points, as top-ranked Oregon City rolled to a convincing 63-43 victory.
Surprisingly, Tinsley started the game with a cold hand and had only two free throws to show for his efforts in the first quarter.
That cold hand and Shoff's decision to use a slow-down tempo on offense was enough to put Lake Oswego in front 8-5 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
But the Lakers followed with two ill-advised shots and a turnover and the Pioneers turned those mistakes into five points and a 10-8 lead at the end of the period. The Lakers never led again.
'That's what good teams do. They burn you. They're a very opportunistic team,' Shoff said. 'And I give Tinsley a lot of credit, because they steal the ball and give it to him and he makes great passes, if he's the one finishing himself.'
The Pioneers started the second period with two more quick baskets to push their lead to 14-8.
At that point, Oregon City seemed to be on the verge of blowing the game wide open, but the Lakers managed to stay within four points as Scott Leedy, Max Jacobsen and Catlin Blyth each scored a basket during an 80-second span.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, all that did was delay the next inevitable run that Oregon City was destined to make. Thanks largely to the open-court play of Tinsley, the Pioneers went on an 11-0 run that pushed Oregon City's lead to 30-15.
Tinsley started the streak with a three-pointer and followed a short time later with a medium-range jumper.
Then, after a miss by the Lakers, Tinsley led a fast-break attack that ended with a no-look assist to Kamal Smith. And, after an inside basket by 6-foot-8 Sam Schafer, Tinsley capped the run with an easy lay-in.
After starting the game slowly, Tinsley had 11 points by halftime and he taken complete control of the game.
'He's a very good basketball player,' Shoff said of Tinsley. 'And it's more fun watching him when he's not playing against your team.'
The Lakers have been a top-10 team most of the season and they showed why during the first half of the third period behind the solid inside play of Jacobsen, who finished with a team-high 17 points.
For a while, Jacobsen was on such a roll that the Pioneers couldn't stop him with a double team.
Finally, Oregon City coach Mike Doherty called time out to settle his team down. The Pioneers' lead was down to 35-27 at the time. It should have marked an opportunity for Lake Oswego to make a run at the lead.
Instead, Tinsley answered with back-to-back three-pointers, both from NBA range, and the lead had quickly ballooned to 41-27. Once again, Tinsley was a major thorn in Lake Oswego's side.
The Pioneers' lead swelled to 50-32 early in the final stanza after Smith broke free for an easy lay-in and followed a short time later with a three-pointer.
'There were times that we didn't step up and meet the challenge and they did every single time,' Shoff said.
After a sub-par shooting performance for most of the night, the Lakers caught fire for a short stretch after Smith's baskets. Jacobsen started the mini comeback with a jump hook over Schafer.
Then, Elliot Babcock-Krenk, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored from close range and then hit his second three-pointer of the night to cut Oregon City's lead to 51-39.
But things quickly took a turn for the worse when the Pioneers scored the game's next seven points to push their lead to 19 points.
Five of those seven points were the result of bad passes by the Lakers. After that, it was too late to make a comeback.
A victory by Lake Oswego would have left the two teams tied for first place in the TRL, but Tuesday's game proved that an opponent has to play near-perfect basketball to beat Tinsley and the Pioneers.
'The glaring thing that stuck out was how poorly we shot,' Shoff said. 'We haven't shot this poorly all year. But (the Pioneers) are hitting shots, so we've got to at least hit a few ourselves.'
The good news is Lake Oswego won't have to worry about Oregon City again this season.
However, the two teams could potentially meet up again in the state championship game. But the Lakers would have to play much better than they did on Tuesday to make that happen.