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Lakers coach looks for right combination

We're just four games into the new season, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the Lake Oswego boys basketball team is still a work in progress.

The Lakers started the season off with an impressive victory over Benson. Since then, the team has been all over the map. At times they looked good, other times, not so good.

So, Shoff decided to shake things up a bit for Tuesday's home against David Douglas when he inserted two new players into the starting lineup.

Making their first varsity starts were 6-foot-3 freshman guard Max Livingston and 6-7 sophomore post Billy Reader. They only scored eight points between them (including a pair of three-pointers by Livingston). But they helped provide some much-needed spark for the Lakers, who registered a convincing 56-39 victory over the Scots.

'I'm just trying to find out what our best combination is going to be,' Shoff said.

No word yet on whether Livingston and Reader will remain in the starting lineup. At the very least, they probably bought themselves some more playing time for upcoming games. Shoff was especially excited about Livingston's sharp shooting.

'As he gets more and more confident (with his shot), he'll help us stretch the defense,' the coach said. 'In practice, he's been killing the varsity, so I decided to start him.'

While Livingston was helping to keep the Scots' defense honest Tuesday night, center Max Jacobsen and wing Elliot Babcock-Krenk were doing most of the heavy lifting in the scoring department. Jacobsen led the way with 18 points while Babcock-Krenk added 15.

Plus, guard Nick Halberg has been a major contributor lately. In last Friday's loss to Tualatin, Halberg had a career-high 14 points, which was one off the team-high for the game. He then added eight more points in the game against David Douglas.

'He's doing everything for us,' Shoff said of Halberg. 'He's really been our floor leader … He's doing everything I want from him.'

There's little question that the Lakers have enough talent to make a good showing in the playoffs. But not many players on the team have experienced the playoffs.

'We're young and inexperienced … so we're trying to find our roles,' Shoff said.

Against the Scots, the Lakers overcame their youthfulness by playing good defense, at least in the first half. For a while, Lake Oswego seemed to be on the verge of burying their foes but David Douglas managed to close within 10 points before intermission.

Shoff gladly would have taken that effort against Tualatin, which represented Lake Oswego's second loss to an Oregon team in the last three years.

In that game, the Lakers relaxed so much on defense that Tualatin was able to score 10 points on inbounds plays next to the basket. With that kind of matador defense, Tualatin scored approximately 80 percent of its points within three feet of the basket, Shoff said.

'You can't beat teams doing that,' he said.

The Lakers had even more trouble on offense, where they made just 36 percent of their field goal attempts and only 50 percent (9 of 18) of their foul shots.

Tuesday's game made Shoff feel a lot better, 'but we still have a lot of work to do,' he said.

'But that's where you should be with a team that is as inexperienced as we are.'