Lake Oswego boys power past Tualatin 65-50 on Tuesday
Let's be honest — the non-league schedule did not go exactly the way the Lake Oswego boys basketball team wanted it to.
The Lakers, coming off a third-place finish at the 2019 Class 6A state tournament, went just 4-7 at the start of their 2019-20 season.
But let's be fair, too — those seven losses included setbacks to the state's second, third, 12th and 13th-ranked teams, not to mention losses to the state's second-ranked Class 5A team and a couple national powers.
Over time, however, those struggles have tested and hardened Lake Oswego, and the Lakers proved as much in their 2020 Three Rivers League opener, powering past Tualatin 65-50 at Tualatin High School on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
"It was huge for league," said Lake Oswego junior post Trace Salton, who led all scorers with 18 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the field, along with seven rebounds, two steals and two assists. "Our record isn't really where we want it to be, but this is definitely going to help us get it where we want. All those teams we played, those tough teams — Bishop Gorman and Westchester out in LA — they prepare us for these moments when we come back here and go into league and we can just play hard and play basketball."
"We lost a tough one to these guys last year so this one definitely meant a lot," added Laker senior Grant Brauner, who came off the bench to score 11 points 5 of 7 shooting from the field (including one 3-pointer), along with three rebounds, one block and one steal. "We've been on a little bit of a losing streak so coming out here and doing what we did tonight was really important."
With the win, the Lakers — 10th-ranked in the latest Class 6A coaches poll — snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League play and 5-7 overall. Tualatin, meanwhile, saw its two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 0-1 in TRL play and 6-7 overall.
After a bit of back and forth in the game's first three minutes, the Lakers took control with a 14-2 run over the final 4:51 of the period. That stretch included two baskets by Salton and 3-pointers by both senior Sam Abere and junior Jack Woolf, with Woolf taking a pass from senior Jack Chlumak and burying a "three" from the right corner to give the Lakers an 18-7 lead with just three seconds left in the period.
For Tualatin, senior Sam Noland scored five points in the period (including a 3-pointer), but the Timberwolves made just 3 of 14 shots from the field in the quarter and turned the ball over five times.
The Lakers kept the pressure on in the second quarter, too, extending their lead to 31-16 when Brauner hit a "three" assisted by Abere with 2:51 remaining in the first half. Brauner hit three straight shots in the period and scored seven points in less than three minutes, while Chlumak and Salton added four points each.
Tualatin was outscored just 17-16 in the period, but trailed 35-23 at the break, with sophomore Peter Burke coming through with seven points and junior Jackson Passaglia adding another five.
The Lakers then opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run that pushed their lead to 45-23 when Abere hit a pull-up jumpshot midway through the frame. Chlumak, senior Casey Graver and Salton had four points each in the period, while Tualatin got three each from Noland and senior Bret Robert and fell behind 51-33 at the end of the quarter.
After the Lakers extended their lead to 59-38 on a Graver hoop in the key midway through the fourth, the Timberwolves pieced together a 12-4 run that brought them within 63-50, but it was too little and too late. Noland scored seven points in the period, including a three-point play that cut his team's deficit to 13 points with just 16 seconds left to play. The Lakers, meanwhile, got four points each in the fourth from junior Grayden Smith, Salton and Brauner.
"I feel like we definitely kept our composure and really took care of the ball tonight, and ultimately, we got good possessions out of that," Brauner said. "I think that's a game-changer when it comes down to it."
"I think this game, we really connected as a team and because of that, we were able to communicate with each other," Salton said. "And if things were getting rushed, we could say 'Hey. Let's do this play or whatever. Let's have some patience.'"
For the game, Chlumak finished with 12 points, Graver had eight points and eight rebounds, and Smith scored six. For Tualatin, Noland finished with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the field (with one "three") and a 2 of 2 day at the line, along with three rebounds and two steals, while Burke ended with 11 points.
Next up, the Lakers host Oregon City at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, while Tualatin plays at West Linn at 6 p.m. Friday.
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