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Jacobsen does best to fill Loves shoes

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego center Max Jacobsen, left, turned in his two best games of the season last weekend against a pair of top-10 teams. He scored 17 points in a 51-44 victory over Westview and had 21 in a three-point loss to Central Catholic.

During last Saturday's boys basketball game between Lake Oswego and Central Catholic, the Rams' student section chanted, 'You need Kevin (Love)' in an attempt to annoy the Lakers.

Who couldn't use Kevin Love, who is now starring at UCLA? But those students were overlooking one major detail. Love's replacement, 6-foot-7 junior Max Jacobsen, was nearly unstoppable last week.

He almost single-handedly led Lake Oswego to a victory over the Rams by scoring a game-high 21 points while controlling the backboards. Yet, the Lakers still lost a 53-50 decision when they let a shot at victory slip away after committing a string of mental errors down the stretch.

It was hard to fault the team's effort the rest of the way, though. And, if the Rams thought Jacobsen was a one-game wonder, they should guess again.

Two nights earlier, in a game that was also played at Central Catholic, Jacobsen outplayed Westview's 7-foot Andy Poling, who has already secured a scholarship to play at Gonzaga next year. In that game, Jacobsen scored a game-high 17 points on an assortment of jump hooks and spin moves that Poling was unable to stop.

The Lakers rode Jacobsen's performance to a 51-44 victory over a team that is still ranked No. 5 in the statewide coaches poll. If the Lake Oswego center continues to play the way he did last week, the Lakers could also wind up occupying one of the top spots in the poll.

Although he scored more points against Central Catholic, the effort against Westview was more significant, and not just because Lake Oswego won the game. It showed that Jacobsen won't be intimidated when playing against a taller, more touted player.

Jacobsen was at his best in the Westview game when scored his team's last seven points of the second quarter. That run started with a rebound basket when Jacobsen managed to get inside position on Poling. Then, after hitting one of two free throws, Jacobsen hit a jump hook over Poling's outstretched arms. Two minutes later, the Lakers' center drilled a turnaround jumper over the big guy.

At that point, Lake Oswego had a 23-22 halftime lead. It wouldn't have been that close without the outside shooting exploits of Westview's Terrell Wallace.

While Poling struggled to score (he finished the night with 10 points), Wallace caught fire at about the same time Jacobsen did when he hit a pair of three-pointers and a long jumper to keep the Wildcats close. Wallace then opened the third quarter with another three and Westview had a 25-23 lead.

Amazingly, Wallace didn't score another point the rest of the game. That was due in large part to the defensive play of Lake Oswego senior wing Elliot Babcock-Krenk.

'They had one guy who was hitting shots. Then we put Elliot on him and he pretty much stopped (Wallace) at that point,' Shoff said.

Babcock-Krenk also scored 11 points, making him Lake Oswego's second-leading scorer. But even if he had gone scoreless, it would have been an effective night for Babcock-Krenk because of his defense.

Then, when Wallace had trouble getting open, Poling stepped up and scored a pair of baskets as the Wildcats turned a six-point deficit into a 36-34 lead early in the fourth quarter.

But Jacobsen answered with a spin move around Poling and Marcus Anthony followed with a driving basket. After another basket by Poling, Babcock-Krenk hit a runner and the Lakers' Cody Randall added a layup after making a steal near mid-court. That gave the Lakers the lead for good at 42-38.

The Wildcats continued to hang close, thanks to a long jumper by Ryan Miller and a three-pointer by Hayes Garrity. But the state's No. 5 team was unable to finish the comeback.

Shoff was relieved to exit that game with a win because he knows the Wildcats will be tough to beat once they get their game in gear later in the season.

'(Westview) is going to be a good team when it's all said and done,' Shoff said.

After taking a day off, Lake Oswego took on Central Catholic on Saturday. With no starter taller than 6-5, the Rams didn't look as intimidating as Westview did. But the Rams are a solid team, which they proved by beating the Wildcats the night before.

Central Catholic makes up for its lack of size with a suffocating half-court trap that gave Lake Oswego fits in the first half. At times, the Lakers had trouble just setting up their offense. So, it wasn't too surprsing that the Rams were able to take a 17-10 lead early in the second quarter.

But Shoff and his players made the necessary adjustments and they came storming back in the second quarter. The turnaround started when Randall made an incredible block on a breakaway by a Central player. Moments later, Randall fittingly hit a jumper to cut the Rams' lead to 21-16.

'(Randall's) energy - we built on that,' Shoff said. 'I was really pleased with his overall effort.'

The Lakers used the energy from Randall's play to go on a nine-point run a short time later. The spurt included a three-pointer by Nick Halberg and another three by Anthony, and the Lakers had their first lead of the game at 25-23.

The game then see-sawed back and forth the rest of the way. But Lake Oswego held the lead just two more times in the second half. There were six ties in that half, however.

The Lakers seemed to be in control when they led 44-41 after a pair of free throws by Jacobsen. But Central rallied behind the outside shooting and the foul shooting of Nate Carr. He had 11 of his team-high 14 points in the final period.

With the score tied at 50-all with approximately 30 second remaining, the Rams were almost certainly looking for Carr to take what could have been the game's final shot.

But Halberg and Anthony managed to trap Carr near the midcourt line. The Laker players seemed to be on the verge of forcing a five-second call on Carr when the referee called a questionable foul on the Lakers.

Neither Lake Oswego player appeared to reach for the ball, but Carr was sent to the line and he hit two free throws to give the Rams a 52-50 lead with 22 seconds left.

The Lakers still had plenty of time left to score the equalizer, or maybe even take the lead. Instead, they sandwiched a pair turnovers around two missed free throws by the Rams, and Lake Oswego never did get a chance to take the last shot.

Afterward, Shoff refused to attribute the loss to the officials.

'I don't want to blame it on them,' he said. 'We turned the ball over too many times.'

Other than the meltdown at the end, Shoff couldn't complain too much about his team's overall effort.

'(Central) is a top-10 team and we showed we could play with them,' the coach said. 'We still have a lot of room to improve and I think we will as the season grows.'