Pacers stun No. 6 Beavers in double OT
By every estimation, the Lakeridge girls basketball team had already had a successful preseason heading into Tuesday's non-league finale against Beaverton.
The Pacers had racked up victories and built up their confidence as they geared up for a brutal Three Rivers League slate.
The team's home game against the sixth ranked Beavers would likely serve as a benchmark and hopefully prepare the Pacers for what they can expect in Friday's league opener.
But not many people anticipated what Lakeridge was able to do on Tuesday. The Pacers fought neck and neck with the Beavers and overcame a nine-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to force overtime.
Then Lakeridge put the game away in the second extra period 76-71, giving the team a monumental boost.
"We proved to ourselves that we can run with teams like this. I'm not sure we really believed that before tonight," coach Kevin Berry said.
The Pacers got off to a quick start, jumping out to an 8-2 lead with some hot shooting from Ruby Taylor and Kyleigh Young.
Lakeridge led 17-16 after the first quarter and was dictating the pace of the game.
The Beavers would take a lead early in the second quarter but Lakeridge responded with a 9-0 run.
Taylor and Nicole Blizzard each scored baskets while drawing fouls to key the run.
Rebounding was an issue for the Pacers as the Beavers got multiple opportunities from close to the basket.
Kiki Alexander came off the bench to give the Lakeridge defense a boost in the spurt.
Beaverton knocked down a shot at the buzzer to close the half but the Pacers held a 35-31 lead.
Beaverton reclaimed the lead early in the third quarter, capitalizing on Lakeridge turnovers.
The Pacers also struggled from the foul line. It was a sloppy third quarter for both teams as the offenses bogged down.
Beaverton's full-court pressure also started to have more success and the Beavers led 41-40 with one period to play.
The Beavers seemed to firmly take control of the game early in the fourth quarter as they scored on their first five possessions.
However, big three-pointers from Taylor and Colleen Ellis kept the Pacers within striking distance.
Turnovers continued to hound Lakeridge though and Beaverton converted them into easy hoops.
"We know we have to be disciplined. When you relax at all against a good team it will bite you," Berry said.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Young took over on offense. Lakeridge isolated Young and she responded with strong drives to the basket, cutting the lead to 56-55 with 1:30 to play.
Young would miss a three-pointer to tie the game with one minute left but Beaverton missed a pair of free throws.
Ellis then knocked down a deep three-pointer with a hand in her face to tie the game 58-58 with 13 seconds left.
"We know we're never out of a game. Our offense can score nine points in 45 seconds sometimes," Berry said.
Both teams traded hoops early in the first overtime.
Blizzard knocked down a three-pointer and Taylor had a basket and a nice assist to Young.
But Beaverton attacked the hoop and stayed right with the Pacers.
Each team missed crucial free throws in the closing seconds and a second overtime was necessary.
Young got to the line in the second extra period, hitting five of six free throws to give Lakeridge a 72-69 lead with 1:30 to play.
Ellee Daskalos also knocked down two clutch free throws to bump the lead to 76-71.
As Beaverton looked for one more answer in the closing seconds, Blizzard came up with a key block and Lakeridge held on for the win.
"For us this is a blueprint. This shows us how we can win against some of the better teams in the state," Berry said.
The Pacers will now gear up for their league opener against West Linn at home on Friday. The game will be at 6 p.m. and will be the first of a doubleheader as the Three Rivers League implements a new scheduling format this year.
The Lakeridge/West Linn boys game will follow.