Love hurts ... Rex Putnams backboard
There would be no shattered backboards in the resumption of the boys basketball game between Lake Oswego and Putnam on Saturday. One of those per weekend is probably enough, anyway.
In fact, after destroying one of the backboards at Putnam High School on Friday, the Lakers' Kevin Love decided to take it easy on the rims the following day at Clackamas' Alder Creek Middle School. However, the 6-foot-10 Love didn't take it too easy on the Kingsmen, who had absolutely no answer for the big man's inside game.
Despite looking tired at times, Love finished the game with 36 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and seven blocked shots as the Lakers (11-1) rolled to an easy 69-37 victory. Once again, Love proved he can do it all, even when he's not shattering backboards.
'I think they were a little mad at me for last night, so I had to take a little easy on the rims today,' Love said after Saturday's contest.
There were times on Saturday, though, where Love could have attempted to break another backboard if he wanted to. His best chance came three-quarters of the way through the game when he had a breakaway similar to the one that ended Friday's game shortly after it started. Love still finished Saturday's breakaway with a dunk, but it wasn't nearly as emphatic as his thundering, two-handed slam from the night before.
'I did ease up on the rim a little bit (on Saturday). I didn't want Dave Lovelin, our athletic director, to have to pay for another backboard,' Love said jokingly.
Maybe Love took it easy on the rims but he didn't let up too much the rest of the time he was on the floor. He was so dominant in the early going that Love scored 15 of the Lakers' 19 first-quarter points, and he assisted on the two baskets he didn't score - both on passes to Elliot Babcock-Krenk. And Love scored from everywhere, including an incredible half-court shot as the buzzer sounded to end the first period. That put Lake Oswego comfortably ahead 19-8.
Love kept his run going by hitting his team's first basket of the second quarter. Then, Ernie Spada scored on a drive a short time later, which made the score 23-8. By that point, it was pretty evident that Lake Oswego wouldn't have much trouble winning the game.
So, the Lakers responded by taking it easy for the rest of the quarter. It took five and a half minutes before Lake Oswego scored again (on an inside basket by Landon Ainge). Then, Spada followed moments later with a bucket that gave the Lakers a 27-15 halftime lead.
Twenty-seven points in one half isn't much for a Lake Oswego team. Probably the only thing that saved the Lakers from being royally embarrassed was the fact that Putnam didn't do much either. So, it wasn't surprising that Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff let his team know how unhappy he was during his intermission pep talk.
'You can't print (what was said),' Shoff said. 'I just got into them … I told them they had to play with emotion and play as if they wanted to win the game, instead of just showing up and thinking that Putnam was going to hand it to us.'
Enough said. Certainly, the Lakers got the message loud and clear. After Shoff's speech, the Lakers looked more like the team that destroyed highly-touted Westview in the second half of the third-place contest at the Les Schwab Invitational.
The teams had barely stepped back onto the floor after intermission when Spada hit a quick jumper. Then, on the next possession, Taylor Marr drilled a three-pointer and suddenly the tone for the rest of the game was set.
After a Putnam basket, the Lakers came back with a dunk and a free throw by Love. Then, in succession, Marr scored on a drive, Love followed with a lay-up, Ainge hit a lay-up, Love hit another free throw and the big guy followed that with a three-pointer. By the time the smoke from that barrage had cleared, the Lakers had blown the game wide open at 45-17.
That was more like the Lake Oswego team that had handled some of the best competition around, including outside the state. To some, playing Putnam almost seemed like getting a day off.
'We've been playing at such a high degree for the last couple of games that I think high school kids sometimes have the tendency to think that all they have to do is show up. I think we showed today that you have to have a mental preparation to do well,' Shoff said.
Shortly after Lake Oswego's 13 unanswered points, Love made a steal near mid-court and had a chance to make history with a second shattered backboard in as many nights. This time, though, Love opted not to push his luck. But he definitely enjoyed doing it the first time.
'It was actually a great feeling because I had always wanted to do that, but I didn't really expect to do it in a game,' Love said of his dunk that ended Friday's game with Lake Oswego ahead 4-0. 'It's a big thing (to shatter a board), but I can't remember anyone ever doing it in high school.'
Apparently it was a big deal to a lot of other people as well. Before the night was over, Associated Press had passed Love's achievement along to the rest of the nation. And KGW-TV had used a clip from the team's video tape and played it over and over again on that night's news shows. By the next morning, the station had shared that tape with the rest of the nation as well. By then Love had friends from seemingly everywhere calling him to congratulate him on his feat.
'It was crazy,' Love said. 'The word spread like wildfire. All of my friends were calling me from the East Coast, and from Texas, North Carolina, Florida, New York. Everyone was calling me, so it was a lot of fun.'
Sometimes it seems like people only come to Lake Oswego games to watch Love play, but the Lakers are not a one-man team. That was evident when they won the state championship last year with major contributions from a number of players, including Spada, Marr and others. It will probably take similar performances from those players for the Lakers to win back-to-back titles.
The second half of the Putnam game showed that Love has some talented teammates. After failing to score in the first half, Marr wound up as Lake Oswego's second-leading scorer with 12 points and Spada added eight while Babcock-Krenk had six.
'That's what we're going to have to do in the long run. It's not going to be just a one-man show,' Love said. 'We're just going to keep improving and hopefully by March we'll be playing our best basketball.'