Laker boys earn TRL No. 2 seed and a golden opportunity
Lake Oswego continued to play at the top of its game and picked up what was perhaps its biggest victory of the year so far last Thursday. The Lakers completed a season sweep of Clackamas with an impressive come-from-behind win over the Cavaliers.
The 80-67 victory marked the highest offensive output from Lake Oswego this year and also clinched the league's No. 2 seed in the playoffs. And, although the postseason can be unpredictable, that appears to be a very advantageous place to be. As it stands, only one of the state's top six teams, Barlow, is on Lake Oswego's side of the bracket.
Clackamas knew what it was playing for in last week's regular season finale and would have liked nothing more than to force a coin flip for that second seed. The Cavaliers started the game on a blistering pace.
Andrew Earnest knocked down five three-pointers in the first quarter for his team and had 18 of Clackamas's first 20 points.
However, the Lakers were able to withstand the storm and didn't panic in the midst of the early onslaught.
'I wasn't really worried. We knew they couldn't keep that up for the entire game,' coach Mark Shoff said.
Lake Oswego was efficient on offense all night and Elliot Babcock-Krenk put on a scoring clinic. The senior hit long jump shots and had strong drives to the hoop which led to a game-high 31-point outburst.
'It was a little bit like Kobe Bryant. He was scoring from everywhere on the floor,' Shoff said.
Still, it would take awhile to overcome Clackamas's quick start. The Cavaliers led by four points at the half and Shoff challenged his team in the locker room.
'I told the guys that this will show how tough they are,' Shoff said.
Lake Oswego responded and held the Cavaliers to just eight points in the third quarter. And the Lakers stayed consistent on offense. In the third period, Nick Rulli came alive and helped Lake Oswego take the lead.
'Nick is one of the best athletes in the school. He's just starting to get his confidence. To this point I think I've had more confidence in him than he has,' Shoff said.
The Lakers took a six-point advantage into the final stanza and took the Cavaliers' best shot down the stretch. Lake Oswego scored 30 points in the fourth quarter, expanding its lead and eventually sealing the victory.
The win clinched a home playoff game on Wednesday against South Salem, a team that features one of the state's top scorers in Xavier Cannefax.
Results from that game were not available at press time.
A win over South Salem would set up a showdown between Lake Oswego and Tualatin. The Timberwolves are one of the few teams who have knocked off the Lakers this year but that game was far from Lake Oswego's best this year.
And Shoff knows that nothing is a sure thing when it comes to the playoffs.
'I really think there will be some upsets this year. Oregon City is the team to beat but a lot of teams are fairly even,' Shoff said.