Max Minervinis lay-up is the difference in a wild TRL opener

Last season, the Lakeridge boys basketball team was very competitive in the Three Rivers League but had difficulty grinding out the close games. Coach Dane Walker hoped that the team's early-season success would carry over into late-game confidence and execution this year and those traits were tested right out of the gate.

After achieving, then giving up a big first-quarter lead, Lakeridge stayed tough and got a last-second bucket from Max Minervini to edge Oregon City 63-61 to open up TRL play.

“That continues to be the way it is between us and Oregon City,” Walker said.

Early on it appeared the Pacers were ready to rout the Pioneers. Lakeridge used stellar outside shooting to thwart Oregon City's zone defense and build an early double-digit lead.

The Pacers were set to blow the game wide open but some careless turnovers late in the quarter allowed Oregon City to right the ship.

“We had a chance to really take them out of the game in the first quarter. We were up 11 but it really could have been more,” Walker said.

The Pioneers continued to chip away slightly at the lead and tightened up the zone to limit the Pacers' looks from long range.

Still, the Pacers led 34-26 at the break.

In the third quarter, it was Oregon City that started to dictate the pace, doing well to stop fast break opportunities and upping its pressure defensively.

As Lakeridge started to have less success with its jump shots, the team stalled slightly on offense.

Oregon City began to control the paint and racked up offensive rebounds, eventually tying the game with one quarter to play.

“They got a lot of their points on second-chance opportunities, which hurt us,” Walker said.

In a game of momentum swings, both teams stayed cautious in the fourth quarter. Lakeridge gave up the lead for the first time all game but managed to quickly regain it thanks to some clutch shots from Reggie Oliver.

“The kids did a really good job not panicking and just playing basketball,” Walker said.

Turnovers continued to hound the Pacers but the defense tightened up and preserved a 61-61 tie with just over 20 seconds to play.

On the final possession, Bryce Anderson worked his way through a trap and got the ball to Eric Dungey. Dungey made a nice catch in traffic and then found an open Minervini under the hoop for a lay-up with one second remaining.

“Max is one of the hardest working guys we have on a daily basis and I was glad he made the shot,” Walker said.

It was a big early victory for the Pacers who know how difficult the road is in the TRL.

“I'll take any win we can get. Oregon City's a talented team and they're going to win some games,” Walker said.

Lakeridge will now take on No. 1 West Linn Friday and looks forward to its shot at the defending champions.

“They're unquestionably the No. 1 team in the state. There's really no pressure on us,” Walker said.

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