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LOs press too much for Scots

by: Vern Uyetake, REVIEW PHOTO / VERN UYETAKE
Lake Oswego’s Ali Lomax, left, maintains her focus despite being bumped by David Douglas’ Martha Hale during Tuesday’s first-round playoff game, which the Lakers won 80-35. Lomax had a team-high 19 points as the Lakers advanced to a second-round matchup against Canby on Friday.

That was quite a reward the David Douglas girls basketball team got for making the state playoffs this year.

After finishing fifth in the Mount Hood Conference, the Scots were unfortunate enough to receive a first-round match-up against Three Rivers League co-champion Lake Oswego. On paper, it was huge mismatch and it didn't help much that the Lakers were still mad after suffering their worst defeat of the season last week against Oregon City.

So, it was no surprise that Lake Oswego handily won Tuesday's first-round contest by a lopsided 80-35 score. The Lakers enjoyed a mismatch at just about every position on the floor.

'Yeah, that was probably unfortunate for (the Scots),' Lake Oswego coach Jason Fawcett said of David Douglas' first-round draw. 'They didn't have a ton of size.'

Of course, the Lakers do have some size and they took advantage of it against David Douglas. The Lakers also had considerably more quickness and that was evident more than anything Tuesday night. The Lakers were especially effective with their full-court press, which was responsible for most of the 26 steals Lake Oswego had.

The game was close for approximately three minutes, after which the score was tied 2-2. Then the roof virtually caved in on the visiting Scots as Lake Oswego reeled off 14 unanswered points to take a commanding 16-2 lead. Many of those early points were the result of Lake Oswego's stingy defensive play and its suffocating press.

'We had some people that we moved around on the press,' said Fawcett, noting that the Lakers have the flexibility to use several players at the key positions on that unit.

'Sarah (Griffin) does a really good job of playing the middle (of the press). The way they ran their press break, it really allowed her to make plays … And Ali (Lomax) is tremendous on the press. She reads the floor and closes ground very naturally and very instinctively … And then Jill (Shoquist) came in and filled Sarah's spot in the middle really well.'

That press was so productive that the Scots were fortunate to advance the ball past mid-court more than a handful of times in the first quarter. Griffin was the catalyst with six of Lake Oswego's seven first-quarter steals. And the Scots' offensive sets were often short-lived, either because of turnovers or misguided shots that Lake Oswego rebounded and quickly turned into fast-break baskets.

At the other end of the floor, the Lakers were an equal opportunity employer on offense as six different players scored during the first six minutes of action.

By the end of the first quarter, three Lakers - Margaret Johnson, Emily Hatch and Shannon Reader - were sharing team scoring honors with four points apiece. Meanwhile, the entire David Douglas team had just three points to show for its efforts after one quarter.

But things might have been too easy for the Lakers in the first quarter. With the game already well under control, the Lakers seemed to coast through the second period. Because of that lax play, David Douglas actually out-scored the Lakers 13-12 in the second period.

'We probably looked at the scoreboard after (the first quarter), and then fell into some natural high school traps,' Fawcett said of his team's sub-par effort in the second quarter. 'But we regained our focus after halftime.'

Indeed they did. In fact, the Lakers turned what could have become a relatively close game into a complete blowout in the third quarter. Lake Oswego out-scored the Scots 27-7 in that period, but that told only part of the story.

The Lakers' press was at its best in that period as the host team picked up nine steals in that eight-minute stretch. Lomax had four of those swipes but she was even more effective on offense as she hit a trio of three-pointers and scored 13 points in the period. Lomax wound up as the team's leading scorer with 19 points.

Shoquist also proved to be a big thorn in David Douglas' side that period. Most of her six steals for the game came in that quarter. She also hit a three-pointer in that stanza, as did Griffin. As a team, the Lakers had five three-pointers in that period and they were the only threes they hit all night.

The rest of the game looked like a track meet as the Lakers seldom needed more than 15 seconds per possession to score a basket. And nearly everyone got in on the act as six players scored at least seven points. After Lomax's game-high total, Avery Lee turned in one her best games of the season with 16 points. Plus, Johnson finished with 12 points while Reader had 10.

Despite all of the running the Lakers did, coupled with a rather sloppy second quarter, the Lakers still only turned the ball over 10 times in the game. Clearly, the Lakers have put last week's debacle against Oregon City behind them.

'I think we got rid of that (memory) right away,' Fawcett said of last week's difficult loss.

Not only are the Lakers back on track, but they might be closing in on a peak performance, and the timing couldn't be any better.

'We're getting closer to it,' Fawcett said. 'We've talked about it … but we haven't put it all together yet.'

Next up for the Lakers will be a home-court playoff game against Canby on Friday. The Cougars, who are led by former Lakeridge coach Heather Roberts, beat Beaverton 57-50 on Tuesday.