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Year ends just short of Mac Court

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lake Oswego’s Max Jacobsen was swarmed by Tualatin defenders all night in the team’s overtime loss last Saturday. However, the junior post still managed to lead the Lakers with 13 points and four rebounds before he fouled out late in the extra period.

You have to feel a little sorry for Chris Webber. When his name is the first thing uttered following a somewhat uncommon basketball gaffe 15 years after it was made famous, it's likely that the play will forever be what he is best known for.

In the 1993 national championship game, trailing by two points in the closing seconds, Webber infamously called time-out when his Michigan Wolverines had none. The result was a technical foul that clinched a victory for North Carolina.

A similar play was the downfall of the Lake Oswego boys basketball team last Saturday. And while the play was far from the sole reason that the Lakers lost 54-46 in overtime to Tualatin, it is certainly the one that will be most remembered.

Lake Oswego rallied back valiantly from an 11-point third-quarter deficit to take a one-point lead with just over a minute to play in the game, its first lead of the night.

Tualatin followed by missing a three-pointer and the Lakers suddenly were in a position of needing to hold on to the ball and hit free throws to earn a berth at the state tournament.

With under a minute to play, Tualatin put heavy pressure on the Lakers and forced the team to call its final time out. Then, after inbounding the ball, Lake Oswego found itself in trouble again.

Max Jacobsen received the ball and went to the ground with it. Tualatin fans called for a travel and moments later a time-out was called. The referee blew the whistle and, after a minute of confusion, a technical foul was issued.

'It was unfortunate but it was just one of those things. We told our kids we were out of time outs but it was the heat of the moment. When you try not to lose it sometimes you end up retreating instead of attacking. But in no way do I blame anyone for what happened. There was still a lot of basketball to be played,' coach Mark Shoff said.

Brandon Troxel missed the first free throw but knocked down the second to tie the game at 37-37. Tualatin then got the ball with a chance to hold for a game-winning shot.

To Lake Oswego's credit, the team played the same stifling defense on the Timberwolves' final possession that allowed the Lakers to make a comeback in the first place. All Tualatin could muster was a heavily contested three-pointer that missed at the buzzer.

The Lakers scored the first two points of overtime but the momentum soon shifted. Less than a minute into the extra stanza, Elliot Babcock-Krenk fouled out. The senior provided much of the spark in the Lakers' comeback and Lake Oswego struggled on offense for the remaining three minutes.

Tualatin succeeded in getting to the foul line in overtime and hit 15 of 19 free throws which sealed the game. The Timberwolves only had one official field goal attempt in overtime and made that shot. Jacobsen also fouled out in overtime.

It was a difficult loss for the Lakers as the team played far from its best game but had Tualatin running scared in the fourth quarter and, up until the technical foul, Lake Oswego had seized momentum.

The Timberwolves were in control for the vast majority of the game, hitting a trio of three-pointers in the first quarter to take a 13-5 lead.

And the Lakers were as cold shooting the ball as Tualatin was hot. Nick Rulli provided some offense for Lake Oswego in the second quarter, scoring seven points including a three-pointer that tied the game at 15 and capped a 10-2 run.

'We didn't quit and that's a testament to these guys,' Shoff said.

But Tualatin responded with a 7-0 run of its own and Lake Oswego's Marcus Anthony missed a lay-up that he tried to get off before the halftime buzzer, leaving the score at 24-19 at the break.

'Our inability to shoot the ball really hurt us. When we had a guy get it going all of the sudden we were playing with them,' Shoff said.

The Timberwolves appeared to be close to putting the game away when they went up by 11 in the third quarter but Babcock-Krenk came back with a huge three-pointer and another basket to keep his team in the game.

The senior picked up his fourth foul with four minutes to play in the game but as Lake Oswego gained confidence, Tualatin started playing not to lose. The Timberwolves only scored three points in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over four times.

Once again, the Lakers turned to Babcock-Krenk in crunch time. After missing his first four shots in the quarter, he came through with another three-pointer to cut the lead to one point and on the team's next possession he hit a long jumper to give the Lakers their first lead of the game with under two minutes to play.

He had 10 points in the game all in the second half while Jacobsen led the Lakers with 13 points. Cody Randall, who missed a good portion of the season with sickness, also made a solid contribution with four points and some valuable minutes.

'I thought Tualatin deserved to win tonight. They were the team that should have won and played better than we did,' Shoff said.

The loss came on the heels of an impressive defensive performance against South Salem last weekend as the Lakers frustrated the Central Valley Conference's player of the year Xavier Cannefax all evening en route to a 54-36 victory.

South Salem crowded the paint all night long, making life difficult on Jacobsen. Still, the Lakers hit some early shots and played phenomenal defense. The team forced seven turnovers in the first quarter and Nick Halberg had four steals by himself in the period.

'Defense is always our focus and I thought we did really well in the first half,' Babcock-Krenk said.

The Saxons only scored one point in the quarter and didn't have a field goal for the first 11 minutes.

A three-pointer by Halberg gave the Lakers a 16-4 lead as Cannefax was held to one point in the half and missed all four of his shot attempts thanks mainly to the defense played by Babcock-Krenk.

'In practice we worked on harping on stopping (Cannefax) and we worked well as a team,' Babcock-Krenk said. Catlin Blyth hit a floater at the buzzer to make the halftime lead 21-9.

The offense picked up in the second half.

Jacobsen finally found some room in the paint and quickly converted a pair of three-point plays. He had 10 points in the quarter.

'We try to get Max the ball and in the third quarter it was big for us to have him get it going,' Babcock-Krenk said.

Meanwhile, Cannefax finally found his range, scoring 10 points of his own but it wasn't enough to significantly cut into the lead.

Lake Oswego never allowed the Saxons back into the game in the fourth quarter as Cannefax dealt with cramps for much of the period and Jacobsen had four rebounds, preventing second-chance opportunities.

Jacbosen had 15 points and nine rebounds in the game.

Despite a less than ideal finish, the Lakers still silenced a number of doubters this season and should be primed for another solid year next winter.

'I couldn't be any more proud of my guys. We thought all year long when no one thought we were going to do anything. If we had won today it would have just been more icing on the cake,' Shoff said.