The Lakeridge girls basketball team outlasted Newberg on the road in a play-in game last week to advance to the state tournament and then hung with No. 13 Southridge for three-and-a-half quarters before falling 47-35.
Against the Tigers, Lakeridge jumped out to a terrific start as the Pacers pressed Newberg and forced the home team into a handful of early turnovers.
The Pacers built an early 14-5 lead and appeared to be firmly in control of the game.
Lakeridge didn't shoot the ball exceptionally well as Newberg has an unorthodox gym that features large amounts of open space behind each basket.
But the Pacers' defensive efforts helped them build a 32-16 lead at the half.
Newberg wasn't done, however, as Lakeridge let off the gas in the third quarter and the Tigers slowly clawed their way back.
"We all owned up after the game. We didn't play well in the third quarter and we didn't coach well. I didn't call a timeout and just sort of let the girls work through it themselves which they did," coach Kevin Berry said.
Newberg cut the lead to single digits but the Pacers' offense found its stride again in the fourth quarter and was able to keep Newberg at arm's length.
"We've talked all year about how there's something to be gained from playing the teams that we do in the Three Rivers League. It's kind of like swinging a weighted bat in baseball," Berry said.
Against Southridge, the Pacers gave the home team everything it could handle but another brief rough patch in the third quarter was enough to saddle the team with a season-ending loss.
Lakeridge went away from its usual style and opted to try and slow the game down against the athletic Skyhawks.
"We knew we probably couldn't run with them effectively so we talked about scoring early or scoring late. If we could get a chance in transition we'd take it, otherwise we'd walk the ball up and be patient," Berry said.
Southridge applied heavy pressure on the Pacers but Lakeridge dealt with it well in the early going.
The game was tied after the first quarter and the Pacers trailed by just three points at the half.
But, in the opening minutes of the third quarter, a few hiccups against Southridge's pressure led to turnovers and some easy baskets as the Skyhawks pushed the lead to 10 points.
"We played even with them again after that little spurt but we couldn't get the stops we needed. We got the shots we wanted but couldn't knock them down," Berry said.
Lakeridge graduates five seniors off of this year's team including three who started every game. The team loses its two leading scorers in Blizzard and Kyleigh Young and its top rebounder in Ellee Daskalos but Berry is excited with where the program is headed.
"We have young talent coming up and there are girls in the halls who are excited about coming out for the team next year," Berry said.