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LO boys claim another TRL hoops crown

and MATTHEW SHERMAN

The Lake Oswego boys basketball team claimed another Three Rivers League title Tuesday night with a convincing 72-55 victory over Oregon City.

The visiting Pioneers entered the contest with a slim chance of tying the Lakers for the crown. To do that, though, Oregon City needed to win its final two league games while hoping that the Lakers stumbled twice down the stretch.

So much for Oregon City's wishful thinking.

Lake Oswego was never really in danger of losing Tuesday's game. The Lakers asserted themselves from the opening tip and bolted to a 27-13 lead by the end of the first period. The Pioneers managed to trim one point from their deficit by the halftime break. But Lake Oswego (11-0, 22-1) effectively put the game away with 19-15 edge in the third quarter.

Kevin Love was his unusual dominating self, but his game-high 28-point effort was four shy of his season average. Also figuring heavily in the convincing victory was senior guard Landon Ainge, who scored a career-high 18 points. Taylor Marr added 11 points for the winners while Ernie Spada contributed nine to the cause.

With the victory, Lake Oswego will now receive a first-round bye in the state playoffs, which begin next week. The Lakers' first playoff game will be played next Saturday at home against either the No. 2 team from the Mt. Hood Conference or the No. 4 team from the Central Valley Conference.

Oregon City, which got a team-high 23 points from Brad Tinsley, fell into a second-place tie in the TRL with West Linn. However, the Pioneers (8-3, 17-5) own the tie-breaker between the two teams because of a pair of victories over the Lions. With the No. 2 berth from the TRL, the Pioneers would face the unenviable task of having to travel to second-ranked South Medford for a second-round playoff game.

Lake Oswego set up Tuesday's showdown by routing cross-town rival Lakeridge 85-35 last Friday.

Playing before a near-capacity crowd in the last Civil War game of his high school career, Love put on another show by scoring 40 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in just three quarters of work.

Love was virtually unstoppable all night and, when the Pacers collapsed on him in the paint, Spada was around to pick up the slack. Spada had 16 points, 14 of which came in a second quarter when the senior point guard knocked down four three-point shots.

His third three-pointer of the quarter pushed the lead to 34-4 as Lake Oswego put the game out of reach in a matter of minutes. The Pacers mustered a small scoring burst toward the end of the half, highlighted by Tyler Larsen's back-to-back three-pointers, the second of which turned into a four-point play.

Still, Lake Oswego led 40-13 at the half. Love had 20 points and nine rebounds in the first half and equalled those totals exactly in the third quarter alone.

Love played like he knew it was the last time he'd face Lakeridge, scoring in a variety of ways in the period. He broke through double-teams for dunks, scored on putbacks and even buried a three-pointer for good measure.

The Lakers emptied their bench in the fourth quarter and still extended the lead. Max Jacobsen had seven points and three rebounds in the quarter for Lake Oswego.