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Lakers survive Tigard, head to Rose Garden


Lake Oswego trails in the fourth quarter but fends off an impressive effort by Tigard to keep its title hopes alive

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Lake Oswego's Colin Caslick makes a strong drive to the basket in the Lakers' 60-50 victory over Tigard last week.Playing without starter Connor Griffin and facing an inspired and highly underrated Tigard team was nearly a recipe for disaster for No. 1 Lake Oswego on Friday.

The Lakers played their first legitimately close game in nearly two months and needed some clutch foul shooting and defense in the final minutes of the game to pull out the 60-50 victory.

Tigard was seeded No. 17 in the state by the OSAA heading into the playoffs but that ranking was hurt by playing in a weak league. Tigard entered Lake Oswego having not lost a game since the Les Schwab Invitational on Dec. 29.

“At the beginning of the year we had them as probably the No. 4 or 5 team in the state and then they got into a little funk at the Les Schwab Tournament but there's a flaw in the RPI system. There's no way a team that goes 14-0 in league should be a No. 17 seed,” coach Mark Shoff said.

Tigard opened the game not looking the least bit intimidated by the undefeated Lakers. Tigard took an early 10-6 and attacked the rim with abandon.

Lake Oswego would countered with a 10-0 run keyed by three steals. A late lay-up by Jack Anderson on an inbounds pass from Christian McDonald allowed the Lakers to build a 16-12 lead after the first quarter.

Lake Oswego appeared to have weathered Tigard's storm when it opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run, getting a three-point play from Cory Coombe and a pair of three-pointers from Colin Caslick.

Two strong takes to the basket by McDonald had the Lakers on the cusp of blowing the game open but Tigard rebounded quickly.

Evan Garrison found his shooting touch from the outside and drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to nine points.

Lake Oswego sensing a momentum shift, tried to chew up clock late in the half but a bad turnover led to a bucket by Tigard's Elijah Simon on a feed from Joel Johnson, making it 30-23 at the break. Tigard closed the half on a 9-2 run.

“I felt like we were close to putting them away and then we miss a lay-up and they hit some shots and suddenly it's down to seven,” Shoff said.

Tigard quickly cut the lead to two points to open the third quarter, getting a three-pointer from Bryan Berg.

The Lakers then turned to Calvin Hermanson, who had been contained well in the first two quarters by Will Schaer.

Hermanson scored five straight points to key a 7-0 run and Johnson, Tigard's post, picked up his third foul.

Berg drained two more three-pointers in the quarter and cut the lead to 39-38 before Lake Oswego's Daniel Verburg answered with a three of his own.

Tigard continued to attack the rim, getting a late backdoor hoop to make it 44-43 with just one quarter remaining.

“We knew we had to focus because it could be our last game,” Caslick said.

Garrison hit a turnaround jumper to give Tigard it's first lead since the first quarter with just under six minutes to play as the Lakers looked tight on offense.

However, Lake Oswego succeeded in getting to the foul line and got into the bonus early.

Verburg scored on a nice pass from Caslick and Hermanson followed with a big basket to make it 52-47 with a little more than two minutes to play.

“I like the way we handled things late in the game. We've overcome some difficulties all season with Calvin getting hurt and Connor missing tonight but each time someone's stepped up,” Caslick said.

Down by seven, Tigard still wasn't done. After hitting a pair of free throws the Tigers forced a turnover and Garrison then coaxed a foul on a three-point attempt, trailing by five with 41 seconds to play.

However, he would hit just one of the three free throws.

Lake Oswego would ice the game with six straight free throws and survived to advance to the Rose Garden.