Lakeridge goes the length of the floor in seven seconds and Ruby Taylor rattles home the decisive shot to give her team a one-point win

by: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge's Natalie Bristol drives against Hannah Plott in last week's victory by the Pacers.The rivalry between the Lakeridge and Lake Oswego girls basketball team is steeped in history and, in recent years, it's best to expect the unexpected when the squads get together.

Friday's first meeting of the year between the two teams was no exception. With the Pacers and Lakers each looking for their first league win, it took a buzzer-beating three-pointer that hit the rim three times before dropping for Lakeridge to nab a 44-43 win on the road.

“With two competitive teams it often just comes down to who has the ball last,” Lakeridge coach Kevin Berry said.

It was a back and forth game from the opening tip but, after trailing by a point heading into the fourth quarter, Lake Oswego went up by five early in the period on five quick points from Stephanie Dorado.

Lakeridge answered with a three-pointer from Hope Daskalos and a big basket from Sammy Danchok.

Ruby Taylor, Lakeridge's leading scorer on the season, would knock down her first three-pointer of the night to tie the game at 41-41. She had been held to four points prior to that shot and just one made field goal.

“I was still feeling pretty confident. I knew that I just had to put my earlier missed shots behind me,” Taylor said.

Lake Oswego answered with a strong drive and shot by Ali Binns who carried the Lakers offensively all evening. Binns had eight of her game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.

However, both teams struggled from the foul line in the final period. With just seven seconds left, Lake Oswego missed the front end of a one-and-one, clinging to a 43-41 lead. Lakeridge secured the rebound and called time-out.

The Pacers inbounded to freshman point guard Natalie Bristol, who dribbled the length of the floor and got into the key where she drew a pair of defenders.

Bristol then kicked the ball to Taylor in the corner who put up a shot that hit the rim and popped straight up in the air before eventually rattling home, right in front of the Lakeridge bench and student section, prompting a loud celebration.

“When I took it and it hit the rim, I had no idea if it was going in. When it fell it was just an amazing feeling to see the whole team there. I've never been in that situation before,” Taylor said.

The game seemed destined to be decided in the final minute as neither squad held more than a two-possession lead at any point.

Lake Oswego got off to a strong start, getting seven first-quarter points from Binns and converting Lakeridge turnovers into fast break points for a 12-9 lead.

However, both Dorado and Juliana Ramey were saddled with two early fouls. Ramey also came down with an apparent ankle injury in the game and was sidelined after the second quarter.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first quarter, going more than five minutes without a field goal.

Lakeridge hit seven of eight free throws in the period and knotted the game at 18-18 at the half.

Lake Oswego would go up by four again early in the second half but the Pacers answered quickly. Bristol had a huge third quarter for Lakeridge, hounding Lake Oswego on defense and tallying three steals while also scoring eight of her team's 11 points in the quarter.

“Natalie's just a menace on defense. She has a real nose for the ball,” Berry said.

Bristol would knock down a three-pointer with seconds left in the quarter to give the Pacers a 29-26 lead. However, Lake Oswego would go the length of the floor, getting the ball to Laura Nichols in the corner who drained a shot at the buzzer to cut the lead to one.

Nichols had five points in the game for the Lakers and made a huge impact in controlling the paint. She pulled down 18 rebounds in the contest as Lake Oswego won the battle of the boards, particularly in the second half.

It was an emotional win for the Pacers who hope to ride the momentum into the second half of league.

“We know we have four more big games before Lake Oswego comes to our place where they'll be a little annoyed,” Berry said.

Lakeridge followed its victory with a tough game against No. 1 Oregon City. The Pacers fell 90-37 as the Pioneers' press allowed them to jump out to a big early lead again.

Lake Oswego fell to Canby 55-37, giving the Cougars an exceedingly better game in the teams' second meeting of the year.

The Lakers only trailed by three points after the first quarter and seven at the half, staying within striking distance until the fourth quarter.

But Canby never gave up a big rally and the Lakers couldn't get into enough of a groove on offense to mount a big comeback. Binns continued her stellar play with a game-high 17 points.

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