Lakeridges boys move to 9-4 and aim for TRL success next

The Lakeridge boys basketball team took Aloha's best shot.

The Pacers, visiting Aloha in a non-league game on Tuesday night, dropped a first-quarter blitz on the Warriors, then survived an Aloha rally that gave the Warriors the lead at the end of the third quarter, and survived again after Aloha grabbed a four-point edge at the start of the fourth.

But this year's Pacers are an experienced group — the team features eight seniors and three juniors — that forced six Aloha turnovers in the fourth quarter and helped Lakeridge escape with a 56-52 victory.

The win lifted Lakeridge's season record to 9-4, while the Warriors fell to 5-8 with the loss.

“When they started picking up the pace and making shots, I (knew) we had to buckle down on defense and stop them from making “threes” and we had to make plays on the other end of the court,” said Lakeridge junior guard Reggie Oliver, who finished with 16 points.

“It's good experience to be in close games and to win them,” added Pacer senior Madison Pihl, who finished with nine points. “In the past, we've been in a lot of close games that we just lose, everything falls apart. But this year, it's not falling apart.”

Early on, the Pacers held the upper hand, putting Aloha on the defensive with their fullcourt press and trapping “D,” a ploy that limited the Warriors to 3-of-10 shooting in the opening quarter and also forced three Aloha turnovers.

At the same time, Lakeridge took charge with eight points by Oliver (six of those on two three-pointers), got another five from Michael Walker, and grabbed an 11-3 lead late in the first quarter before settling for a 17-9 edge at the end of the frame.

The Pacers extended that edge to 23-14 on a Pihl three-pointer early in the second period, but after that, the Warriors began reeling Lakeridge back in for the first time. From there, Aloha got an inside hoop from Steven Boswell, a drive from Edgar Guerra, a Connor Bernett three-pointer, and another “three” from Terrell Gayhart that brought the Warriors within 25-24 midway through the quarter.

But the Pacers closed the half on an 8-2 run that included three-pointers by Jack Misell and Pihl, as well as a pull-up jumpshot from Oliver to make it 33-26 at the break.

Undeterred, the Warriors kept coming in the third quarter, opening the second half with an inside basket by Bernett, a three-pointer from Nick Christopherson, and a Boswell bank shot to tie the game at 33-33 with 6:10 to go in the period.

The Warriors were still dead-even at 38-38 when Boswell rebounded his own miss and scored with 1:52 to go in the third, and from there, Aloha moved into the lead for the first time. Boswell took a pass from Hudson Van Allen and scored on the fast break, Boswell drilled three-pointer from the left corner to make it 43-41 at the end of the third, and Keith Hunter added two foul shots at the start of the fourth to give Aloha a 45-41 lead with 7:48 left in the game.

Lakeridge made sure Aloha wouldn't keep that edge, though. The Warriors went scoreless for the first 4:52 of the fourth quarter — they turned the ball over four times and went 0-for-4 from the field — while the Pacers got a three-point play by Oliver and a fast break hoop from Walker to lead 46-45.

The Warriors answered with a Boswell baseline jumpshot that gave Aloha its last lead at 47-46 with 3:08 to go, but Lakeridge held the upper hand the rest of the way. Pacer senior Patrick Jaco hit a pair of foul shots and added a layin, Walker turned in a three-point play and hit two foul shots, and Oliver added one free throw with 27 seconds left to put the game away.

Aloha added a Bernett “three” with 1:16 left and two Boswell free throws at the end of the game, but it was too little and too late.

Now, with the Pacers looking ahead to Three Rivers League play on Friday — the Pacers visit Oregon City at 6 p.m. in their opener — they know they're ready.

“We just kept our cool and waited for the coach to give us the right plays,” Oliver said. “We knew we were going to come back at them.”

When we “play with intensity, we win,” Pihl said. “That's why our coach keeps telling us to stay intense — that's all it took.”

Walker led the Pacers with 18 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line, while Oliver went 5-of-9 from the field (with two “threes”) and 3-of-4 at the line, Jaco finished with 10 points, and Pihl had nine. As a team, the Pacers committed just eight turnovers.

For the game, Boswell went 8-of-11 from the field (with one three-pointer) and hit 3-of-5 foul shots to lead Aloha with 20 points, while Bernett hit 5-of-14 (with four three-pointers) and had 14, and Gayhart finished with six points. As a team, Aloha turned the ball over 12 times.

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