Just three days earlier, the Lakeridge boys basketball team had been left for dead in its Three Rivers League opener.
The Pacers got pummeled by talented West Linn in that game, but after some soul-searching and a return to basics, came out with new life against Canby.
Lakeridge, hosting the Cougars on Friday, Jan. 17, shook off a slow start, rallied from an 18-point deficit in the game's final 10+ minutes and pushed Canby to the end before finally falling 60-54.
"For us, we just kind of wanted to bounce back. We had a pretty bad last game so bringing everything together (was) a big key for us," said Lakeridge senior guard Carson Mike, who finished with 15 points (on 5 of 10 shooting from the field — including three 3-pointers and a 2 of 5 day at the foul line), along with two assists, two rebounds and one steal. "We kind of went back to ground zero and started all over again, and I feel like this time, it really worked."
"It definitely feels good because after that tough loss, I'm surprised we bounced back this good," said Lakeridge senior guard Aaron Buck, who led his team with 16 points (on 6 of 11 shooting from the field — including four 3-pointers), along with three assists, three rebounds and one steal. "I really think this is a turning point for our team because we weren't playing very good before or after winter break … but I think we are back for sure and other teams are going to be surprised when we come and play them."
With the loss — Lakeridge's fourth straight — the Pacers fell to 0-2 in Three Rivers League action and 5-8 overall, while the Cougars moved to 2-0 in TRL play and 8-6 overall.
That said, Canby held the upper hand early on, racing out to a 10-0 lead in the game's first 2 minutes, 27 seconds, that stretch capped by junior Benjamin Bailey's steal and breakaway hoop with 5:33 to go in the opening frame.
The Pacers edged back within 13-7 when Mike scored from the right side, but the Cougars capped the opening period with an 18-7 edge when junior Diego Arredondo took a pass from sophomore Alexander Evans and buried a 3-pointer from the right wing 23 seconds before the end of the quarter.
The second period was a much more balanced affair, with Canby outscoring Lakeridge just 12-11, the Cougars getting four points from Bailey and three each by junior Riley Knutson and sophomore Alexander Evans. The Pacers, meanwhile, countered with 3-pointers by both Mike and sophomore Rylan Lafaye to trail 30-18 at halftime.
Things got worse for the Pacers before they got better, though, with Canby opening the second half on a 16-10 run that extended its lead to 46-28 when junior Chance Miller took a Knutson pass and drilled a "three" from the right wing with 2:30 remaining in the period.
The Pacers didn't fold, though. Instead, they responded with an 8-0 run that cut their deficit to 46-36 when Buck took a pass from Lafaye and knocked down a 3-pointer from the left side with 7:45 remaining in the game.
Canby pushed its lead back to 54-41 when Arredondo hit a pullup "three" with 5:14 to go, but the Pacers just kept coming. Mike drilled another 3-pointer, Buck buried a "three" of his own from the left wing and Mike sank 2 of 3 foul shots to bring Lakeridge within 55-49 with 2:24 to go.
The Pacers got even closer — at 59-54 on junior Clark Sheehan's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left — but ran out of time from there.
"I think we played a lot better team ball this game," Buck said. "We just had to come and play hard and I think we did that. It feels good even though we didn't win."
"For us, it was a big, big confidence booster, especially since our last game wasn't the best," Mike added. "This shows that we can hang with other teams, and in my opinion, we can hang with most teams."
Sheehan added six points in the loss for Lakeridge. Evans led Canby with 19 points (on 6 of 8 shooting from the field — including four 3-pointers and a 3 of 4 day at the foul line), along with two assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Bailey added 15 points (on 6 of 8 shooting from the field — including one 3-pointer and a 2 of 4 day at the foul line), along with five assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
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