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Pacer cagers geared up to host holiday tourney

After a difficult loss at McNary last Friday, the Lakeridge boys basketball team took a much needed break and headed to Seaside for a weekend retreat.

It was an important bonding period for the Pacers as they looked ahead to a tough three-day run through their annual holiday tournament, which started on Wednesday.

But the Pacers didn't do any practicing while they were in Seaside. Instead, they spent most of their time playing board games and getting to know each other a little better. They also spent some time discussing their goals for the remainder of the season.

'All the guys recognize that for us to be successful, we have to play together as a team,' Lakeridge coach Dave Nuss said. 'Everybody needs to buy into that.

'I'm excited to see how they play after that retreat,' the coach added. 'I think we're all closer because of it.'

The timing of that retreat probably could not have come at a much better time, especially considering the way the Pacers played down the stretch during a 61-45 loss to McNary.

The Pacers played well in the third quarter, outscoring the Celtics 16-7, which gave Lakeridge a 38-35 lead heading into the final stanza. With McNary in foul trouble at that point, the Pacers seemed to be in perfect position to register an important road victory. But things started to come unraveled after that.

Instead of forcing the Celtics in more fouls, Lakeridge began sending McNary's shooters to the charity stripe. The Celtics wound up hitting 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter. They also hit a trio of three-pointers and outscored Lakeridge 26-7 in the final period.

'We didn't execute well in the fourth quarter,' Nuss said. 'And (the Celtics) made clutch shots when they needed them.'

Lakeridge probably could have played a little tighter on defense, though, especially when the game was still close.

'We gave up too many open shots,' the coach said. 'Every one of the threes should have been contested … but I think we'll learn from it.'

Tyler Larsen, who is the second-leading scorer in the Three Rivers League, led the Pacers with 15 points. Trevan Hertz was next in line with nine points.

The loss to McNary followed a 63-53 victory three days earlier against Reynolds, which has been struggling this season. The Pacers led 40-18 at halftime. It was so easy to that point that Lakeridge was able to put its game in cruise control in the second half and still win.

'I think (Reynolds' comeback) points out … that the game isn't over in the third quarter,' Nuss said.

The Pacers had more balanced scoring in that contest. Larsen led the way with 13 points while Josh Little had 12. Ben Nelson and Jimmy Trumbull added nine points each while Hertz chipped in seven.

After last week's split, the Pacers had a 4-2 record before heading into their holiday tournament. The Pacers opened the tourney against Glencoe. A game against either North Medford or Southridge awaited the Pacers on Thursday. The rest of the field includes Hillsboro, Tualatin, Roosevelt and Gresham.

It's one of the strongest holiday tournaments that Lakeridge has hosted, and the Pacers will have to play well to win it.

'It's a good tournament,' Nuss said. 'I think it will tell us where we're at.'

Lakeridge Holiday Classic

Runs through Friday

Games at 3:00, 4:30, 6:00,

7:30 p.m. each day

Field includes Lakeridge, Glencoe, Hillsboro, Tualatin, Roosevelt, Gresham, North Medford and Southridge

call Pacer hotline at 503-534-2221 for specific game times