Ernie Spada to compete in North-South All-Star Series

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Ernie Spada, Lake Oswego’s point guard during two runs to the state championship game, will play college basketball next year for Humboldt State.

It's pretty safe to say that Ernie Spada never got enough credit for the contributions he made to the Lake Oswego boys basketball team during the last four years. Of course, it's hard to garner too much attention when you're playing in the shadow of Kevin Love.

'Well, he was the best player in the country,' Spada said of the 6-foot-10 center, who has been his best friend since pre-school.

While Love was the most dominant player around, everybody else on the Lake Oswego team was essentially asked to be a role player, and Spada was the consummate role player. He was an excellent shooter, ball-handler and passer, especially on his perfectly timed lob passes to Love.

'I just kind of played my role and did whatever the team needed,' Spada said of his contributions.

Without Love, the 6-foot point guard easily could have been among the top 10 or 15 players in the state in points scored. But few people outside of Lake Oswego were willing to give Spada the credit he deserved.

At least the coaches who pick the squads for the end-of-the-season all-star games knew how good Spada was this season. In March, he was picked to play for the 10-man Oregon all-star team that was matched against the Washington all-stars.

'It was nice to have people notice my skills,' Spada said.

This weekend, he'll play in the North-South all-star series that will be held in Salem and Clackamas Community College.

Strangely enough, Spada and three other Portland-area players will play for the South squad in that series.

Unfortunately, Love won't be able to team up with Spada one last time because he already saw his allotment of post-season action when he played in two national all-star games.

But Spada will have to get used to not having his old buddy in the middle any more. Once the new school year rolls around, Love will be playing for UCLA and Spada will be playing at Division II Humboldt State.

'It's going to be different not having Kevin around anymore … but I think it's going to be a lot of fun playing for (Humboldt State),' Spada said.

The Northern California school probably recruited Spada the hardest, although Cal Poly-Pomona made a strong bid as well. But Little Ernie, as he was sometimes called, knew Humboldt State was the right choice after he made his second visit to the school in early spring.

'I like the players and the coaches there,' Spada said. And 'for Division II, they're about as good as it gets.'

Humboldt is expected to be strong again next season and the former Lake Oswego star figures he'll play about 15 minutes a game as a freshman.

By the time he's a sophomore, it's a good bet that Spada will be the team's starting point guard.

Just like he did with the Lakers, Spada will earn that spot by doing what comes naturally, which is 'being unselfish and doing whatever the team needs,' he said.

Whatever happens at Humboldt, nothing will replace the memories of playing at Lake Oswego over the last four years, a run that includes a state title and two second-place finishes.

'Not many guys can say they played in three state championship games,' Spada said. 'It was tough to see it end … but it was a lot of fun and a lot of good memories.'