Lakeridge girls play their way into Class 6A tourney
Two wins and they're in.
The Lakeridge girls basketball team won two straight playoff games — including a 54-39 victory over Three Rivers League foe Oregon City on Saturday, March 5, that guaranteed the Pacers a berth in the Class 6A state tournament.
"Our defense tonight was really tough," said Lakeridge coach Jason Brown. "We frustrated them early, and … held solid in the second half."
In the win over the Pioneers at Lakeridge High School, the Pacers led at the end of the first, second and third quarters — leading 41-26 after three and kept that edge to win by 15.
Junior Keelie O'Hollaren, who led all scorers with 23 points, knocked down five 3-pointers and added 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Senior Reese Ericson had 17 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and five steals. Senior Kiersten Weiler scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and made four blocks. And senior Kemper Flood added six points, six rebounds and two steals.
Oregon City got a balanced offensive effort led by seniors Anya Remsburg, Kadyn Guelsdorf and Grace Leasure, with Remsburg and Guelsdorf scoring 10 points each and Leasure eight.
With the win — the Pacers' ninth straight — Lakeridge improved to 22-4 overall after winning the Three Rivers League. Oregon City, meanwhile, finished at 17-9 overall after placing third in the Three Rivers League.
Next up, the fourth-ranked Pacers will face No. 5 Clackamas — a 65-31 winner over Grants Pass on Saturday — in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state tournament at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.
Lakeridge 62, Liberty 31
You could excuse the Pacers if they might have felt a little nervous in their 2022 state playoff opener.
After all, Lakeridge won the Three Rivers League for the first time since most of the Pacers were in preschool and found themselves in the unusual position of hosting a first-round playoff game.
But once the game tipped off, Lakeridge proved it was more than ready for prime time, burying five 3-pointers in the game's first five minutes and building on that fast start to beat the Falcons 62-31 on Wednesday, March 2, at Lakeridge High School.
"It felt good," said Weiler, who scored just two points, but grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots. "I think we've put the work in this week and the whole season so we had a lot of confidence in ourselves going into it."
"We had a lot of confidence," agreed Ericson, who had 16 points (on 7 of 11 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers), along with seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. "We've been preparing, watching film every day, playing against guys in practice. We've been putting the work in, especially this last week getting ready for playoffs."
Besides their efforts, O'Hollaren led all scorers with 21 points (on 8 of 20 shooting from the field, including five "threes"), along with 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block.
No. 29 Liberty lost for a second straight time and saw its season end at 8-14 overall after finishing fifth in the Pacific Conference.
The Pacers hit the Falcons with a double-whammy in the first quarter, knocking down five "threes" — including two each by Flood and sophomore Karmen Perry — in the first five minutes, while simultaneously locking down Liberty with their defense.
On "D," Lakeridge held the Falcons to just 3 of 14 shooting from the floor in the first quarter and forced four turnovers to grab a 17-6 lead at the end of the period.
The Falcons, who trailed by as many as 13 points in the opening quarter, edged back within 21-11 thanks to a "three" by freshman guard Kaliyah Chronister from the right wing and a pair of free throws by freshman Kennedy Reamer.
But the Pacers shut Liberty down there, holding the Falcons scoreless over the final 4:32 of the half and boosting their lead to 20 points at halftime. Over the final 4:14 of the half, Lakeridge stitched together a 10-0 run that included three points from Flood, a "three" by Ericson, a pair of foul shots from Weiler and an O'Hollaren hoop to lead 31-11 at the break.
Already deep in trouble, the Falcons saw Lakeridge put the game on ice in the second half, in great part thanks to the Pacers' stellar ball movement and O'Hollaren's deadly long-range shooting. After a slow start to her night — O'Hollaren missed her first seven shots of the game — the Pacer wing absolutely caught fire. She hit eight of her final 13 shots from the floor, including six straight (five of them 3-pointers) in a span of 7:30 during the third and fourth quarters to put the Falcons away.
"This is somewhere Lakeridge hasn't been in a long, long time so we are getting ready for it," Ericson said. "We're just proving to ourselves every day why we put the work in and we're hoping it takes us far. We know the effort that we've put in and it's going to be a fun run."
Perry finished with nine points (on 3 of 8 shooting including three 3-pointers), along with one rebound and one steal. Kemper added nine points (on 3 of 8 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers and a 1 of 4 day at the foul line), along with four steals, three assists and one rebound.
For Liberty, Chronister finished with eight points (on 3 of 13 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers), along with three rebounds and one steal. Senior post Brynly Bryan added a team-high nine points (on 3 of 11 shooting from the field and a 3 of 6 day at the foul line), along with 10 rebounds. And junior Sage Reamer and Kennedy Reamer added four points each in the loss.
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