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Pacer girls suffer OT loss to Cavs

The Lakeridge girls basketball team has plenty of uniforms but its running out of people to fill them.

The Pacers were already short-handed when they hosted Clackamas Tuesday night in a crucial Three Rivers League contest. That marked the third game that senior guard Kirah Aldinger-Gibson missed after she injured a wrist against Lake Oswego two weeks ago. It's an injury that could keep her out even longer.

The injury bug then spread to McKenzie Jank, who pulled a thigh muscle in Tuesday's game. She could be out of action for another one to two weeks, Lakeridge coach Mike Melin said.

'We're starting to run out of bodies,' Melin said in an almost fearful tone.

There's never a good time for players to get injured, but this might be the worst time for the Pacers. Lakeridge really needed to be at full strength against the Cavaliers, a team that has been red-hot over the last three weeks or so.

Despite being short-handed, the Pacers actually had a chance to beat the Cavs. Lakeridge held the lead twice in the final period, but Clackamas rallied each time and eventually sent the game into overtime. The Cavs then pulled out a 68-59 victory.

The Pacers got its share of impressive performances, including a team-high 17 points from junior post Kiersten McNairy. In addition, Kai Schmidt scored 15 points and Amanda Huck poured in 12. Schmidt and Huck each hit a trio of three-pointers.

The two outside shooters played possibly their best games of the season.

'(Huck) single-handely kept us in the game,' Melin said.

And Schmidt was on fire in the fourth quarter when she was trading three-pointers with Clackamas' Becky Buhler, who led all scorers with 22 points.

For a while it looked like Lakeridge might pull out the victory in regulation.

'We had them on the ropes,' Melin said.

But every time Schmidt or someone would hit a big shot, Buhler always seemed to have an answer. Then, Lakeridge hurt its cause by committing a couple of turnovers late in regulation. That helped send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, Clackamas went 9 of 10 from the foul line, and 'that kind of cinched the deal,' Melin said.

For the night, Clackamas hit 21 of 28 free throws while Lakeridge hit only 8 of 18 attempts.

The Pacers also were hampered when Huck fouled out down the stretch, which left the team a little short on the front line.

'When Huck is not in there, we really lack height,' Melin said.

The loss dropped Lakeridge to 2-4 in league play but the Pacers only trail fourth-place West Linn by one game. Those two teams will meet next Tuesday at West Linn.

'We're (still) in great shape,' Melin said. 'But (the West Linn contest) is going to be a playoff game for us.'

The Pacers had gone winless in their first three league games before beating Milwaukie and Putnam on consecutive nights last week.

That mini winning streak started with a 63-23 victory over Milwaukie on Friday. McNairy led the way in that game with 15 points.

'Kiersten McNairy is really starting to use her body well … and that's giving us a better inside presence,' Melin said.

Schmidt added 14 points to Lakeridge's winning cause and eight other players helped out by scoring two to six points each. That included six each by Catherine Bergeron, Courtney Bird and Zoe Teton, who was called up from the junior varsity.

Teton was one of five JV players who got called up for the game and they wound up playing most of the fourth quarter

'It was one of those games where it was really good to get everyone some playing time and seeing everyone score,' Melin said.

The following day, in a 75-55 victory over Putnam, the Pacers put four players in double figures. Schmidt led the way with 19 points while McNairy had 16. Bergeron added 13 and Jank had 10.

Other teams in the league have beaten Putnam by wider margins this season, but it's hard to complain about a 20-point victory.

'We played well for four quarters (against Putnam), which is something we haven't always done,' Melin said.