Lake Oswego boys fight past Lakeridge 74-62 in 'Battle'
Looking at their records, the Lake Oswego and Lakeridge boys basketball teams could hardly be more different.
The Lakers sit atop the Three Rivers League and are currently the eighth-ranked team in the state.
The Pacers, by contrast, haven't won in more than six weeks and are ranked 44th among Oregon's 50 Class 6A teams.
But none of that mattered Friday. Not when its Lakers vs. Pacers, not when it's a rivalry game, not when it's the Battle of the Lake.
The Pacers rallied from double-digit deficits more than once, cut the Laker lead to a single point three times in the second half and still trailed by just five midway through the fourth quarter before the Lakers finally pulled away to win 74-62 at Lake Oswego High School on Friday night.
"Every time it's a rivalry game, we go in knowing it's going to be tough," said Lake Oswego junior guard Josh Angle, who led all scorers with 24 points. "Looking at their record, you wouldn't think the game would be as competitive as it is, but every single time we come and play, it's a close game and everybody competes hard."
"We held strong," said Laker junior guard Brandon Roberts, who added eight points in the win. "We had to push back against them there, but we pulled it out."
With the win — their fifth straight — the Three Rivers League-leading Lakers improved to 8-1 in the TRL and 14-5 overall. The Pacers, meanwhile lost for the 16th straight time and fell to 0-9 in league and 1-18 overall.
Despite their record, Lakeridge's players still believe in their ability to play and believe they will win again.
"I think … early on, we had some flaws and a little bit of chemistry problems, but right now, practice is really good we've been growing a team and we've been in a lot of games," said Lakeridge sophomore guard Ethan McEachern, who led his team with 16 points.
"I think over the past three weeks, even though we haven't been getting the results we want, we've been playing really well together," added Pacer freshman guard/forward Tony Fair, who scored his four points in the third quarter. "We're right there. We just need to get over the hump."
To be fair, the Lakers presented a pretty big hump, grabbing a 23-17 first-quarter lead behind seven points from Angle, six by Roberts and 3-pointers from both J.R. Schilling and Sam Abere. Pacer senior Jake Fedrizzi scored eight points and McEachern another five to keep their team close, but the Lakers boosted their lead even further in the second period.
There, the Lakers outscored the Pacers 18-12 to make it 41-29 at the half, with Angle collecting another seven points in the frame, Abere adding four and Grant Fuson three. For Lakeridge, Cam Feik came through with five points (including a 3-pointer), McEachern four and Fedrizzi another "three" for Lakeridge.
The Lake Oswego lead was still 43-33 on two Abere foul shots with 6 minutes, 17 seconds to go in the third quarter, and was still 48-40 when Angle hit a pair of free throws with 4:42 to go in the frame.
The Pacers, however, were not going to go away. Lakeridge — which got another five McEachern points in the third, and four each from Cort Gerot and Carter Larrance — saw Matt Armsby knock down two free throws, Feik bury a "three" from the left wing assisted by Fedrizzi and Larrance connect on a jumphook set up by Feik to bring their team within 48-47 with 1:55 to go in the third.
Lakeridge's deficit was still just 50-49 when Larrance scored at the end of a great Fedrizzi-to-Armsby-to-Larrance fast break near the end of the third quarter, and 52-51 when Gerot scored from the right block early in the fourth.
The Lakers weren't going to let this one get away, however. Lake Oswego closed the game on a 22-11 run, including a 12-5 edge in the final 3:06 that included 10 of 14 free throws (three each by Angle and Schilling) and a layin from Wayne McKinney III.
Just as important, the Laker defense stiffened, forcing five Lakeridge turnovers in the game's final three minutes.
"It's all part of the maturation process for our team," Angle said. "The first couple years under (Lake Oswego coach Marshall Cho), in situations like that, the other team would have a big run and we'd panic and lose our lead, but this year we're much more composed and it's helped us pull out games that we haven't pulled out and won in the past."
"In the offseason, we did a lot of training and that helps us with hustle and pushing them ball so we get on the ground because we're a tough team and we can run with anybody when we're out there hustling," Roberts said.
For their part, the Pacers knew they had a chance to win against one of the state's top teams.
"They brought a lot more energy to the fourth quarter and we just couldn't carry it through," said Gerot, who finished with eight points. "We knew it was going to be a hard-fought ballgame … but it got away from us."
More importantly for Lakeridge, Friday's result proves to the Pacers that they can play.
"All of our last five games are winnable games … so we should be good to go," McEachern said.
Schilling finished with 14 points, Abere 11 and McKinney eight for Lake Oswego, while Fedrizzi had 12 and Feik eight in the loss.
Next up, Lake Oswego hosts second-place West Linn — the four-time reigning TRL champion — at 7 p.m. Tuesday, while Lakeridge hosts Sherwood at 6 p.m. Tuesday.