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Pacer boys finish season at Chiles Center

An early injury to Jake Spurgeon hampers the Pacers' playoff run

VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge coach Dane Walker guided the Pacers to a pair of playoff victories and its first appearance in the state tournament since 1993.The season didn't quite end the way the Lakeridge boys basketball team would have liked but just being at the state tournament at the Chiles Center marked a huge step for the Pacers.

It had been 22 years since the Lakeridge boys last made an appearance in the quarterfinals and some bad luck and tough competition did them in against Jesuit and North Medford.

In the opening round, the Pacers went up against the No. 3 Crusaders, a team that would go on to make the state title game, finishing as runners up.

Jesuit jumped out to an early 11-2 lead but Lakeridge rallied back with a 7-0 run, punctuated by a steal and powerful dunk from Eric Dungey. Dungey scored wight points in the first quarter to give the Pacers an early spark.

Late in the quarter, Jake Spurgeon picked up his second foul of the game and went to the bench. He also tweaked his knee and was limited for the remainder of the tournament.

Lakeridge trailed 22-13 at the end of the first quarter but opened the second period with another 7-0 run.

Ian Gaekwad had six points in the quarter and McKay Burg knocked down a three-pointer. Jesuit would answer with back-to-back three-pointers but Lakeridge was still very much in the game, trailing 35-26 heading into the locker room.

Lakeridge got off to a good start in the third quarter as well, getting back-to-back baskets from Immanuel Allen, closing the gap to five points.

Another three-pointer from Burg cut the deficit to 36-33 but Jesuit would close the period on an 8-0 run to rebuild a double-digit advantage.

Lakeridge ran out of firepower in the fourth period as Jesuit cracked down defensively and was able to force turnovers.

The Pacers would finish with 20 turnovers in the game and scored just five points in the fourth quarter in a 66-40 loss that was much closer than the final score indicated.

In consolation, Lakeridge suited up without Spurgeon, who sat out with his knee injury. However, the Pacers played inspired basketball in the first half.

Lakeridge's defense was stellar against the Black Tornado and McKay Burg had one of his best games of the year. After hitting an early three-pointer, Burg would score 11 points in the first quarter, helping his team to a 19-8 lead.

The Pacers would then open the second quarter on a 10-2 run, going up 29-10 at one point as both Burg and Allen were hot from the field.

Lakeridge led 35-18 at the half and had North Medford thoroughly flummoxed on offense.

But it would be a much different story in the second half. The Black Tornado came out with heavy full-court pressure and it gave the Pacers issues.

Lakeridge missed Spurgeon's calming influence on the court and North Medford went on a 9-0 run to get back in the game. After a late three-pointer, the Black Tornado had made it a six-point game with one quarter left.

Free throws by Bo McClintock pushed the lead to eight early in the fourth but North Medford continued to chip away and would take the lead on a three-point play with 1:19 remaining in the game.

Allen would then hit five straight free throws to cut the lead to 58-57 with 27 seconds remaining, giving Lakeridge a chance.

The Pacers then forced a turnover but missed the ensuing shot and were forced to foul.

North Medford hit both of its foul shots and the Pacers missed a desperation three-pointer to tie in a 60-57 loss.

Lakeridge will graduate six seniors, including three starters this year but hopes that the success of the season gives the program momentum heading forward.


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