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LO boys roll past Clackamas

In its league opener, the Lake Oswego boys basketball team took on a team that is not considered to be one of the best teams in the state. That is something that hasn't happened often this year for the Lakers, and the result probably could have been predicted.

Lake Oswego pounded Clackamas 90-56 in a game that, truly, was not even as close as the final score.

That may be hard to believe, but the fact is that the Lakers were hitting on all cylinders last Thursday and had virtually put the game away just minutes after the opening jump-ball.

As usual, Kevin Love was unstoppable in the post, scoring a pedestrian 40 points with limited effort, but the story of the game was the play of Lake Oswego's guards.

Following the Les Schwab tournament in which the Lakers lost to South Medford in the semi-finals, coach Mark Shoff recognized that Love and point guard Ernie Spada were carrying too much of the scoring load. So he opted to go small against the Cavaliers.

'We had to take a look at what went right and what went wrong and realized we needed more scoring from different people. When we go small, we're quicker on defense and can spread it out on offense,' Shoff said.

As a result, Spada, Taylor Marr and Elliott Babcock-Krenk combined for 42 points. Clackamas simply didn't have an answer for all of Lake Oswego's weapons.

The Lakers started out on fire. Marr knocked down a pair of three-point shots early in the contest and Love controlled the paint, making it difficult for the Cavaliers to get many second chances on offense.

'Clackamas is probably going to finish second or third in the league, but when we're getting outside scoring, that's a tough combo to stop,' Shoff said.

Lake Oswego built a 25-10 lead after the first period before slowing the game down slightly.

Clackamas kept even with the Lakers for much of the second quarter but Lake Oswego still held a 16-point lead at the half.

It was much of the same in the third stanza. The Lakers poured in another 25 points as Love began to take over the game on both sides of the ball. Lake Oswego's pressure and quickness on defense also helped them bolster the lead, particularly the play of Landon Ainge.

Ainge has started to make a name for himself this season for his peskiness on defense and his all-around hustle.

'Landon's one of those guys who you love having on your team but probably hate if you're going up against him,' Shoff said.

Even with a nearly 30-point lead, Lake Oswego's reserves thoroughly outplayed Clackamas in the final quarter en route to the blowout victory.

Then, on Saturday, the Lakers took yet another road trip, this time travelling to Minnesota for a showdown against Osseo, a team that was ranked third in that state's preseason poll.

Osseo took a quick 7-2 lead in the game but the Lakers quickly settled down. Lake Oswego took a slim lead, as the hosts didn't have an answer for Love inside.

However, Osseo stayed within striking distance thanks to the play of Xavier Reed, who will play for Cal State-Northridge next year.

'He hit some big-time shots even with us playing good defense on him,' Shoff said.

Reed had 20 points in the game and the Lakers led 38-32 at the half.

Lake Oswego upped its defensive efforts in the second half and it helped the team pull away for an impressive victory. Ainge and Babcock-Krenk pestered Osseo's guards and Love and Spada provided most of the scoring for the Lakers down the stretch.

'We played our game in the second half and started to pull away,' Shoff said.

The result was a 74-58 victory for the Lakers.

Shoff credits much of his team's early success to chemistry. Despite making a number of long and tiring trips so far this season, the team has stayed tight-knit and has yet to experience a lull.

'This team hangs out together and enjoys being together. They're well-behaved when we travel and they come out ready to play for every game,' Shoff said.

Next up for Lake Oswego is Friday's game against Putnam.