A new squad should still be very competitive

by: JON HOUSE - Point guard Jazz Johnson joins the Lakers after transferring into the district from Milwaukie. Not much remains from last year's Lake Oswego boys basketball team that finished third in the state and put together perhaps the most dominant regular season in the program's history.

Only one player with experience in the program is returning but that doesn't mean the team won't be extremely competitive again.

Lake Oswego benefited from the transfer of junior Milwaukie point guard Jazz Johnson in the offseason. Johnson figures to be a huge difference maker for the team and a catalyst for Lake Oswego on both sides of the ball.

“Jazz makes us special. He's up there with some of the top kids I've coached,” coach Mark Shoff said.

Zach Parker returns as the only varsity player with significant experience. Parker is a terrific all-around athlete and should pair with Johnson in a very formidable back court.

Shoff is also expecting a big season out of junior Max Dinesen, another talented athlete who will do some of the team's dirty work inside.

While the Lakers have been a team blessed with a significant amount of height in recent years, this year's squad will rely more on its all-around athleticism.

“It's not a huge line-up so we're making sure we teach how to box out since that will be an issue,” Shoff said.

Mitchell Verburg and Canaan Sellers, a transfer from Valley Catholic High School, also figure to be big contributors to the team this year.

Shoff will run his same system on both offense and defense this year and he has been pleased with how adaptable the team has been and how well it has responded.

“It's really a fun group to coach. It's only the second time in 19 years where we've started the season with everyone from football,” Shoff said.

The Lakers also figure to have a large contingent of players who will battle for playing time as the season progresses.

Max Mattern and Leo Spada should be impact players and are both dealing with early-season injuries.

Drew Todd, Max Oppenheimer, Tony Bruno and Kendall Kitzinger should also play valuable roles on the team.

Lake Oswego won't face quite as brutal of an early schedule as it has in the past where it has taken on many of the state's top teams.

However, the Lakers will still play in the Les Schwab Invitational and in the Red Bluff Tournament in California.

“Hopefully we have a little more breathing room this year and can get some early wins,” Shoff said.

Although the team graduated the bulk of its roster, the Lakers don't expect to take a significant step back and hope to be factors in a tough Three Rivers League.

“It's such an unknown right now but we did well over the summer and beat some very good teams,” Shoff said.

The TRL features the defending state champions in West Linn and a handful of other improved squads.

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