Lakeridge boys fall to McKay 90-81 in opener
For a long time — OK, a very, very long time — the Lakeridge boys basketball team had McKay right where it wanted it.
The Pacers, facing the Royal Scots in their 2017-18 season opener on Friday, led after the first quarter, led again after the second quarter and were still up by four points midway through the fourth.
But it all went sideways there, with McKay unleashing a torrent of fourth-quarter free throws and outscoring Lakeridge by 13 points down the stretch to win 90-81 at Lakeridge High School.
"We put 81 points on the board, which is good, but at the defensive end, we can't allow 90 points in a game," said Lakeridge senior guard Jake Fedrizzi — the only returning varsity player on the roster — who had 16 points on Friday. "But I think overall, we will trim that down so this was a good learning experience for the team as a whole."
"There was a lot of learning tonight. There's a lot of things that we know we can work on now," added junior guard Matt Armsby, who led all scorers with 29 points in his first varsity game. "We learned a lot about what we need to practice on and where we need to get better. Our offense was fine — we scored a lot of points — but we've got to dial it in on defense and focus on that. That will keep us moving forward."
With the loss, the Pacers fell to 0-1 on the season, while McKay — led by 28 points from Khyler Beach and 25 from Andre Tovar — moved to 1-0. Next up, the Pacers return to the court in two weeks when they play at South Eugene at 6:45 p.m. Dec. 15.
The Pacers started fast on Friday, getting seven first-quarter points from Armsby, Ethan McEachern adding five, and Lawrence Chen and John Struik scoring four each for Lakeridge, while Tovar answered with seven and Beach five for McKay to keep their team within 24-18.
The Pacers pushed their lead as high as eight points in the second quarter, the last time at 34-26 when Fedrizzi took a kickout from junior Cam Feik and buried a three-pointer with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first half.
But Beach and Tovar brought their team back in the remaining minutes, with Beach hitting three three-pointers in less than two minutes, Tovar hitting twice from the field and Israel Garza connecting at the end of a drive to cut McKay's deficit to 42-41 with 20 seconds left in the half.
Fedrizzi hit a pair of foul shots at the end of the half to make it 44-41 at the break, then connected twice early in the third quarter to extend the Lakeridge lead to 50-43 with 5:46 remaining in the period.
But the Scots just wouldn't go away. They came back with a 10-1 stretch that included three points from Garza, a three-pointer by Tovar, one foul shot from Drioji Joel and another "three" by K.R. Tipkins, the last of those giving McKay a 53-51 lead with 3:18 left in the third.
The Pacers — getting nine third-quarter points from Armsby and four by Fedrizzi — trailed just 60-59 entering the fourth quarter, then got five Armsby points (including a "three") and a Carter Larrance hoop set up by McEachern to lead 66-62 with 5:21 left in the game.
The Scots responded again, first from long range — on three-pointers by Garza, Beach and Joel — and then from the foul line the rest of the way. McKay, which led 73-68 on Joel's "three" with 3:31 remaining, closed out its win at the charity stripe, making 15 of 20 in the final 2:50 of the game. Included in that run was a devastating possession that saw Tovar bury six straight free throws after being fouled and Lakeridge getting whistled for a pair of technical fouls with 1:23 left on the clock, a possession that gave the Scots a commanding 86-76 lead.
Armsby tacked on 10 more points in the final frame and Fedrizzi hit another "three," but it just wasn't enough to combat McKay's success at the line. In total, the Scots hit 19 of 24 free throws in the fourth quarter and 33 of 46 for the game.
"We get two weeks off before we head to South Eugene so that's a good time to fine-tune all the stuff that we didn't do well tonight," said Fedrizzi, who went 6 of 16 from the floor with two "threes" and added a 2 for 2 day at the foul line. "Execution was a big thing why we didn't win that ballgame, but given those two weeks (before the South Eugene game), I think we're going to come back and change people's minds."
"We just got rattled because it was such a fast and up and down game," Armsby added, after making 9 of 19 shots, including three "threes" and 8 of 9 foul shots. "We've just got to get our composure and find some rhythm in the game — that's all about learning and experience."
McEachern added 10 points for Lakeridge and Larrance another eight.
For McKay, Beach went 7 of 18 from the field, including six three-pointers and 8 of 11 foul shots, while Tovar hit 6 of 13 from the field, with two "threes" and 11 straight free throws.
The Pacers were also hamstrung by their 26 turnovers, while the Scots gave the ball up 18 times.