Lakers set to reload in basketball
- Bill Stewart
- Lake Oswego Review - Sports
This summer marked the beginning of the post-Kevin Love era for Lake Oswego basketball, and despite what a lot of critics think, the future might hold a lot of promise for the Lakers.
Of course, it will be difficult if not impossible to match what the Lakers accomplished during Love's four years at LOHS. It included four trips to the final eight, three consecutive appearances in the championship game, and a state title.
Now, a lot of in-state teams seem anxious to schedule games against Lake Oswego, but the Lakers might give those teams more than they bargained for.
The 2007-08 version of the Lakers went 13-3 during a recently completed summer season. After starting the campaign with close losses to three highly-touted teams - Jesuit, Jefferson and Westview - the Lakers came back to win 13 straight. That included a 4-0 mark at the Battle of the Borders in Longview, Wash., where the Lakers beat three teams by 30 or more points.
'That was as good as we played all season,' Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff said of his team's effort in the Washington tourney.
But it wasn't easy getting to that point. Not only did Shoff lose the services of Love. He's also had to replace all-state guard Ernie Spada, plus two all-league performers - Taylor Marr and Landon Ainge - and Tommy Allen, a hard-nosed reserve.
The team will now be led by Elliot Babcock-Krenk, the only returning starter from last season.
In the past, 'he sacrificed his offense for Kevin … but he's going to be counted on to be one of our main scorers,' Shoff said of Babcock-Krenk.
The senior-to-be is already living up to expectations by averaging 20 points per game during the summer season.
Next year's starting lineup also will include junior Max Jacobsen, who shared a starting front-court position alongside Love during the early part of last season before Shoff decided to go with a four-guard lineup.
'Max has had a really good summer,' Shoff said. 'He's not Kevin but he's a pretty darn good high school player.'
Also expected to start for the Lakers next season will be guards Nick Halberg and Marcus Anthony and forward Cody Randall. All of them are capable of scoring in double figures on any given night.
Nick Rulli and Billy Reader also have a chance to be part of what could be an excellent seven-man rotation.
'If we're going to be good, I think we're going to have to do it with a lot of guys,' Shoff said. '… But, if they play hard and play together, they could be really good. I think we'll surprise some people.'
The key ingredients might be the team's unity and its work ethic.
'They have great attitudes and they do work hard,' Shoff said. 'It helped having those guys ahead of them.'
Will this squad be good enough to be ranked among the top 10 teams in state at the beginning of the school season?
'In a way I almost don't want them to be,' the coach said, hoping that his team will continue to fly under the radar a while longer. 'But I think we can compete with any team in the state.'