Lakeridge boys break through to beat Sherwood
This one felt good.
On paper, the Lakeridge boys basketball team's 64-61 home win over Sherwood on Tuesday was just another regular season game between two teams trying to break through in the Three Rivers League.
But to the Pacers, it meant so much more.
Lakeridge's win — which wasn't secure until freshman Tony Fair buried a 3-pointer in the game's final seconds — snapped a 16-game losing streak that had spanned parts of two years and measured 50 long days from start to finish.
"We got a much needed win … against Sherwood," said Lakeridge coach Fred Gold. "(It was a) long time coming for our team and we hope this momentum will lead us into the next four games."
While the Pacers hadn't won for a long time — their last "W" had come in an 80-55 rout of Wilson in the first round of the Lakeside Classic at Lakeridge on Dec. 18 — Lakeridge's coaches and players truly believed they would break through and win again.
"Our team and coaching staff felt a win was coming as we have been close on several occasions prior to that game," Gold said.
The Pacers had played league-leading Lake Oswego to a standstill for more than three quarters in their 74-62 loss on Friday. They dropped a 63-62 decision at Tualatin — a team that had beaten four-time TRL champ West Linn this year — just three days earlier. And before that, Lakeridge had dropped 50-46 and 63-59 decisions at home to Canby and Newberg.
"I think that over the past three weeks, even though we haven't been getting the results we want, we've been playing really well together," Fair said after Friday's loss to Lake Oswego.
"We have a lot of hope," added senior post Cort Gerot. "I don't think our record shows what we can do."
That said, the win over Sherwood — a team with victories over both Tualatin and Tigard (the Tigers are currently tied for second place in the TRL with West Linn) — did not come easily.
The Pacers hit the ground running and raced out to a double-digit lead in the first half against the Bowmen. Lakeridge — led by senior Jake Fedrizzi's 21 points (including 5 of 9 shooting from 3-point range, 12 from Fair and 11 by junior post Carter Larrance — seemed to be hitting on all cylinders.
"We came out hot in first quarter, playing as a team better than we had all year," Gold said. "Both offense and defense were clicking as well as bench participation."
But Lakeridge went cold in the third period, managed just six points in the quarter and saw the Bowmen crawl back into contention. Sherwood saw its comeback crest with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when the Bowmen knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the contest at 61-61.
The Pacers, however, were not going to let this one go. Not this one.
On the ensuing series with time running down, Fair put the ball between his legs near the top of the key, took a crossover to his right and launched a long 3-point attempt over Sherwood senior Owen Grubbe. Fair fell backward due to Grubbe's challenge, then watched — along with his teammates — as the ball arced toward the basket and swished cleanly through the net, setting off a huge Lakeridge celebration near midcourt.
"We drew up a play, the play got jammed so Tony Fair … had to make a play," Gold said. He made a "crossover from left to right (and hit a) jumpshot from 'three' that found nothing but the bottom of the net."
To their great credit, the Pacers knew — even after their losing skid hit 16 games on Friday — that better things were coming.
"We're right there. We just need to get over the hump," Fair said on Friday. "We are right there. I think we just need to keep giving effort."
"All of our last five games are winnable games … so we should be good to go," sophomore guard Ethan McEachern added on Friday.
Gerot and Larrance added seven rebounds each in the win, while McEachern had seven assists and Fedrizzi four.
With the win, the Pacers lifted their Three Rivers League record to 1-9 (2-18 overall), while Sherwood fell to 5-5 and fifth place in league (12-8 overall).