Lake Oswego senior center Emily Hatch didn't seem to miss a beat after being sidelined for four games with a bruised lower back.
Hatch returned to action last Friday for her team's Three Rivers League opener against Clackamas and she led all scorers with 14 points as the Lakers registered a 50-39 victory.
The Lakers never trailed in the contest. In fact, they threatened to blow the game wide open after jumping to an early 10-0 lead and then a 18-4 advantage by the end of the first quarter. But the Lakers had trouble sustaining the effort that led to that lopsided start and the game wound up being much closer than it should have been.
'The girls came out focused, and when we're focused I think we'll be pretty good,' Lake Oswego coach Jason Fawcett said. 'It's now a case of trying to find that focus for 32 minutes and not just six or eight.'
After Hatch picked up two easy rebound baskets early in the second period, the Lakers had pushed their lead to 24-7. Then a five-point spurt at the end of the quarter, which included a basket by Hatch and three points by Jill Shoquist, gave the Lakers a 31-13 lead at halftime.
But Lake Oswego looked ragged in the third quarter, when the home team scored just five points. That left the door wide open for a Clackamas comeback, but the Cavs only scored 10 points in that period and eight of them came at the foul line.
The Lakers regrouped momentarily when they scored the first six points of the final stanza, which pushed their lead to 42-23. Clackamas then out-scored Lake Oswego 16-8 the remainder of the way. That included a 6-of-7 effort from the foul line for the Cavs. It wasn't enough, though, as the Cavs had too much ground to make up and not enough time to do it.
Overall, it was somewhat of a strange night for the Lakers, who had complete control of the early portion of the game. But there were other parts of the game when Lake Oswego looked only slightly better than ordinary.
'I think we learned a little bit about adversity,' Fawcett said after the game.
In an impressive early-season victory over Jesuit, 'we did a great job of trusting each other and sticking together,' the coach said. '(Against Clackamas) some adversity hit and their focus was gone.'
Fawcett wondered if his team spent too much time keeping track of the score rather than just playing its game.
'They were looking too much at the scoreboard, even though we preach not to,' the coach said. 'Luckily it wasn't as painful of a lesson (as it could have been).'
Hatch, who scored 12 of her 14 points in the first 17 minutes of the game, was the only player in the contest to score in double figures. She might not have been the difference in the game, but it was hard to ignore her contributions.
'Now that she's back, (the players) are kind of readjusting to different roles … But it was good to have her back out there,' Fawcett said.
Margaret Johnson, the Lakers' leading scorer during the season, added eight points to her team's cause while Shoquist had seven and Sarah Griffin and Ali Lomax added six each.
Monica Strous and Becky Buhler led the Cavs with eight points apiece while Natalie Clements added seven.
The Lakers followed the Clackamas game with a very convincing 68-35 non-league victory over Redmond on Tuesday. Once again, the Lakers jumped to a big, early lead (they led 21-7 after one quarter), but this time they didn't let up. By halftime, the lead was 34-17 and the margin just kept growing.
The Lakers got solid performances for several players, but no one stood out more than Lomax, who plays with unmatched hustle at both ends of the court. She led all scorers with a season-high 19 points.
In addition, Johnson scored 13 points for the winners while Hatch added. 12.