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The Pacers pull away down the stretch to win for a fifth time in the 2019-20 season

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Lakeridge junior guard Kobe Kruse splits two McKay defenders during his team's 69-47 non-league win over the Scots on Friday, Jan. 3, at Lakeridge High School.There are challenges ahead and the Lakeridge boys basketball team knows it.

But so far, the Pacers are meeting those challenges head-on and holding their own.

They did so again on Friday, Jan. 3, running away from McKay to win 69-47 in non-league action at Lakeridge High School.

"It was an important one. We knew we could do it," said Lakeridge senior guard Mason Nelson, who finished with 14 points (on 5 of 10 shooting from the field and a 4 of 4 day at the foul line), along with 13 rebounds, four steals, three assists and one block. "It was really sloppy … but we showed energy, we showed heart and we pulled it out."

"It feels really good to be back in the 'W' column for sure, said Pacer junior forward Clark Sheehan, who tied sophomore guard Rylan Lafaye for team-high scoring honors with 19 points (on 8 of 15 shooting from the field and a 3 of 7 day at the foul line), along with seven rebounds, one steal and one block. "We've just got to come out there and give it our all, play relentless defense, be on the ball 24/7 and it will work out."

With the win, the Pacers snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 5-4 overall, leaving them just one win short of their 2018-19 season total. McKay, meanwhile, lost for the ninth straight time and fell to 0-9 for the year.

Lakeridge 69, McKay 47

That said, the Royal Scots held their own well into the third quarter and led for most of the first, getting seven points (including a 3-pointer on the game's first possession) in the opening period from senior guard Elijah Hectocta.

Lakeridge answered with six first-quarter points from Nelson and took its first lead at 8-7 when Nelson made a steal and fed Lafaye for a breakaway basket with 1 minute, 36 seconds remaining in the frame.

After closing the first quarter on an 8-2 run to lead 12-9, the Pacers opened the second with a 13-3 stretch that extended their advantage to 25-13, capping that run when Sheehan took a pass from junior Ozzy Stephenson and scored on a cut with 4:42 remaining in the half.

While Lakeridge was unable to push its lead past 12 points, the Pacers also kept McKay from getting closer than 10 and led 33-21 at the break. Lafaye broke loose for 11 points in the period, knocking down 4 of 6 shots (including a "three") from the field and two free throws, while Sheehan added eight points in the quarter.

McKay wasn't quite done, however. The Scots kicked off the second half with a 16-9 run highlighted by sophomore guard Chansse Lee's nine points, including a putback hoop that cut the Pacer lead to 42-37 with 2:01 to go in the third quarter. Junior teammate Malachi Sterling added six points for McKay in the frame, while Lakeridge got four points each from senior Carson Mike and Nelson, and a 3-pointer from junior guard Kobe Kruse to help the Pacers take a 49-38 edge into the fourth.

The Scots edged back within 49-41 on three points from junior guard Cole Casmay in the first 50 seconds of the fourth quarter, but Lakeridge made sure they got no closer. The Pacers closed the game on a 20-6 run over the final 6:55 to leave McKay behind, getting six points down the stretch from junior guard Max Wise and four each from Sheehan, Nelson and Lafaye.

The Pacers knocked down 7 of 11 shots from the field and 6 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter, while holding McKay to 4 of 11 shooting and six turnovers in the period.

After the game, the Pacers talked about their depth and team play.

"We've got 10 or 12 guys who can do anything at any given moment," Sheehan said. "We've got guys who can do a lot of different things to benefit our team I'm excited to see what the future holds."

"Every game, every win we get is a team win," Nelson added. "We don't have any selfish players. We don't have guys that have to carry the team. It's always a team win. We play together."

For the game, Lafaye went 8 of 10 from the field (including one "three") and 2 of 2 at the foul line, along with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Wise and Mike added six points each in the win.

For McKay, Casmay and Sterling had 14 points each, and Lee added 11.

Next up, the Pacers play at Glencoe at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, and host South Medford at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10.

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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