OC girls once again inhospitable guests
First-year Lakeridge girls basketball coach Mike Melin now knows what it's like to play on Oregon City's home floor.
While coaching some good teams at Glencoe in recent years, Melin had the misfortune of trying to beat Oregon City at the state tournament. But his teams had never played the Pioneers on their home court before. Last Friday, Melin found out how difficult that can be as well.
The host Pioneers didn't exactly lay out the welcoming mat for Melin or his players as Oregon City rolled to a lopsided 75-40 victory over the Pacers.
Certainly, Lakeridge could have used Amanda Huck, who missed the game while attending her grandmother's funeral in Nebraska. However, even with Huck's season scoring average tacked on to Lakeridge's point total, the Pioneers' margin of victory still would have been substantial.
It almost seemed like Oregon City was playing with a chip on its shoulder last Friday. Maybe the Pioneers were still trying to pay the Pacers back for the loss Oregon City suffered at Lakeridge two years ago. Since the Pacers' eight-point win over the Pioneers in January 2005, the Pioneers have had little trouble beating Lakeridge and last Friday's game was no exception.
For the record, the Pacers can say they kept the score close for four minutes. At that point in the game, Oregon City held a slim 7-3 lead. Even with four minutes to go in the second quarter, Lakeridge still only trailed 25-14, which is certainly not an insurmountable deficit.
Then the roof virtually caved in on the Pacers as the Pioneers reeled off 13 unanswered points to close out the first half with a 38-14 lead.
The Pacers hurt their chances by turning the ball over nine times in each of the first two quarters. It was easy to see why the Pacers had so many miscues after watching Oregon City employ its suffocating full-court press.
'At the beginning of the game, our kids were a little jittery,' Melin said. '(Then) Oregon City got us in their pace. We took quick shots and didn't convert and then we rushed our shots when we broke their press. That's just what they want you to do. So, we did a really good job of helping them out.'
Lakeridge was actually fairly successful at advancing the ball across mid-court against the Pioneers' press. That's when the problems usually began as Oregon City switched to a half-court trap that probably left the Pacers feeling like they were being quadrupled-team at times.
'I was proud that we got it past half-court,' Melin said. 'But the second part of a press is to get you to rush shots and do things that you don't want to do with the ball. And we did all of those things tonight.'
Oregon City showed no mercy in the second half as the margin grew almost by the minute. The Pioneers made a surprising number of lay-ins in the contest as Oregon City ran its offense with incredible precision. But the Pacers couldn't pack their defense into the middle of the key, either, because the Pioneers also hit 10 three-pointers.
Even though it was a forgettable night for the Pacers as a team, they did get some solid individual performances that were worth noting.
Junior center Kiersten McNairy proved to be a tough match-up for the Pioneers' interior defense. She tied for team scoring honors with 13 points.
'(McNairy) is starting to be a force,' Melin said.
Then there was Kai Schmidt, who went scoreless in the first half but poured in 13 second-half points. Ten of those points came in the third quarter. That accounted for approximately 75 percent of Lakeridge's production in that period. Schmidt then started off the final quarter with a three-pointer, giving her three for the game.
Schmidt might have had an even bigger game but Oregon City geared a fair amount of its defensive effort to keeping the ball out of her hands.
'Hats off to Oregon City because (Schmidt) didn't get a lot of looks,' Melin said.
The Lakeridge coach loved the fact that his team played hard all night and never gave up, but he was also quick to give Oregon City its deserved credit.
'Hey, they're a good basketball team,' Melin said. 'What is it, 14 years that they haven't lost a home basketball game? And I can see why.'
Thirty-five point losses can be demoralizing but Melin wasn't too worried about his players' psyches after the game.
'I think we're good,' the coach said. 'We talked about having two different seasons. We had our preseason, which I think is one of the toughest in Oregon. Then we knew we were going to have a tough game against West Linn and we knew this was going to be tough.'
Knowing Melin, he'll somehow find the silver lining in a 35-point loss against one of the state's best teams.
'I hope this will be a positive,' he said. 'You can't find a better team to practice against than Oregon City … Their type of speed and agility and shooting - we just don't see that in practice. It's a good experience as long as the kids say, 'we're going to learn some things and get better from it.'