The Pioneers fire up in the second half en route to a 63-40 win at Lake Oswego
by: John Lariviere, Oregon City's Bryce Kinney goes sky high to grab an offensive rebound in Friday's win at Lake Oswego.

LAKE OSWEGO - Oregon City's top-ranked boys basketball team Friday took a giant step towards successfully dethroning three-time defending Three Rivers League champion Lake Oswego, defeating the seventh-ranked Lakers in convincing fashion at Lake Oswego.

With a 63-40 trouncing of the Lakers, the Pioneers improved to 4-0 in league and 15-1 overall.

Lake Oswego slipped to 3-1 and 12-3. It was the lowest scoring game of the season for the Lakers, who entered the contest averaging 58 points and riding an eight-game win string.

It was the Lakers' first loss in league since Jan. 14, 2005, when they lost to Oregon City 52-49 at Lake Oswego. Friday's Pioneer win snapped a Lake Oswego league win string at 40 games.

'It feels pretty good,' said Oregon City point guard Brad Tinsley. 'Lake Oswego's a good team. There wasn't as much hype as when they had [Oregon 6A Player of the Year] Kevin Love, but it's a big win. They were tied with us for first place in league. Now we're alone at the top.'

The game was a lot closer than the final score might indicate. The Lakers dictated a slow tempo in the first half, and the Pioneers struggled to get any kind of rhythm going. Oregon City took only a 26-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Pioneers pulled ahead 38-29 early in the third period, when they hit their first five shots from the floor. Schafer drove to the basket for a 3-point play, Tinsley scored twice close to the basket, Alex Seigal cashed in on a 3-pointer, and Bryce Kinney scored a fast-break bucket following a steal by Kamal Smith.

But the Lakers stayed close until the final seconds of the third period, when a costly three-shot foul allowed the Pioneers to put the game out of reach.

With his team trailing 40-33 and 45 seconds remaining in the third period, Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff elected to go for one shot that would trim the Pioneers' lead to just four points.

Laker star guard Elliot Babcock-Krenk got the call. But his 3-point attempt missed the mark.

Tinsley came down with the rebound with four seconds left and headed up the floor. The senior playmaker launched a prayer just past the half-court line.

The shot missed the mark, but Tinsley was fouled by Laker junior Catlin Blyth on the attempt.

With no time remaining in the period, Tinsley calmly walked to the free throw line and found nothing but net on three attempts, upping the Pioneers' lead to 43-33.

It was off to the races for the Pioneers the rest of the way, as they got their running game going and outscored the Lakers 20-7 in the final period.

Babcock-Krenk, who scored 17 points for the Lakers in the first three periods, went scoreless in the final frame.

Midway through the final period, Kinney went sky high for a crowd-pleasing dunk tip-in to make it 52-38 Oregon City. And the game belonged to the visitors.

Tinsley (17 points) headed a balanced offensive attack that saw four Oregon City players reach double figures in scoring. The 6-4 senior made only four field goals, but he was 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.

'Brad got a lot fewer shots than he usually gets,' said Oregon City coach Mike Doherty. 'Lake Oswego did a good job defending him. They were well organized.'

But while Tinsley was six points below his season scoring average, he sparked the Pioneer offense with seven assists.

Schafer tallied 16 points, going 8-of-9 at the charity stripe. The 6-9 senior also hauled down 12 rebounds, as he led the Pioneers to a 27-21 edge on the backboards.

Kinney added 14 points and Smith chipped in with 11.

Babcock-Krenk was the only Laker to reach double figures in scoring.

The Pioneers out-shot their hosts from the field, .526 (20-of-38) to .361 (17-of-47). The Pioneers cashed in on 20-of-24 (.833) free throws; the Lakers made 4-of-5 (.800).

'This was a big win,' said Doherty. 'It was a game against one of our toughest opponents at their place, and it put us in first place in league. But we can't count our chickens before they're hatched.

'We still have Clackamas on the road, and I respect Putnam, Milwaukie, West Linn and Lakeridge. Any of those teams can get it done on a given night if you don't come ready to play.'

It was the fifth win in a row for the Pioneers, who have yet to lose to a team from Oregon.

The Pioneers were to host Putnam (8-7, 1-3) on Tuesday (Jan. 29). They conclude the first half of the league season on Friday, when they entertain Milwaukie (4-12, 1-4). And they meet Clackamas (11-3, 3-1) next Tuesday, on the road.

Lake Oswego faces another key match-up this Friday, when the Lakers host Clackamas.

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