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Pacer boys fall to West Linn in league opener

by: VERN UYETAKE Brandon Loiler puts up a shot against a West Linn defender in the Pacers’ 64-60 loss to the Lions on Friday. Loiler had a standout game, leading all scorers with 25 points and pulling down seven rebounds. It was the Pacers’ second loss to West Linn this year by fewer than five points.

The Lakeridge boys basketball team matched West Linn shot for shot for the second time this year and held a lead late in the fourth quarter. But the Lions came up with clutch plays down the stretch and saddled the Pacers with a tough 64-60 loss in the team's league opener last week.

It was a fast-paced and entertaining game from start to finish. Lakeridge trailed for much of the first half but rallied late in the third quarter to lead with eight minutes to play.

Brandon Loiler got the Pacers off to a fast start.

The post, who returned to the line-up after missing a game with a neck injury, hit four of his first five shots and had 10 points and three rebounds in the opening stanza.

But West Linn hung with Lakeridge in the early going and executed well on offense, claiming an 18-16 lead after the first quarter.

Lakeridge struggled to contain West Linn point guard Mitch Cokley in the second period.

The guard caught fire from the outside and scored nine points in the quarter.

Meanwhile Lakeridge cooled off from the field and the Lions slowly extended their lead to 32-27 at the half.

The opening minutes of the third quarter were played at a furious pace with both teams having little difficulty scoring.

Michael Walker hit his first three shots in the quarter and Tom Knecht hit a big three-pointer to stop a West Linn run.

That shot keyed a run by the Pacers. Loiler hit a shot through a triple-team that put Lakeridge up by one point and a foul with no time left on the clock allowed Madison Pihl to sink two free throws, giving the Pacers a 50-47 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

However, West Linn quickly erased that advantage in the opening minute of the final period. The Lions jumped out to the lead but Knecht had another big shot to answer.

Knecht would later hit a three-pointer to knot the score but West Linn's talented freshman Anthony Mathis was tough to stop late in the game.

He converted a big three-point play to put the Lions back up but back-to-back baskets by Loiler put the Pacers up by one with 1:10 to play in the game.

Again it was Mathis who answered for West Linn and, after a defensive stop, the Lions' Hayden Coppedge knocked down a pair of free throws to put West Linn up 63-60.

The Pacers set up a late play but turned the ball over with two seconds left to seal their fate. It was only Lakeridge's fifth turnover of the game.

For the game Loiler finished with 25 points and seven rebounds.