You've heard the phrase "you never get a second chance to make a first impression," right?
It sure looks like the Lakeridge girls basketball team has because the Pacers made a heck of a first impression on Oregon City on Friday, May 28
Lakeridge, playing at Oregon City High School in Three Rivers League action, raced out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter, built that edge to 18 in the second quarter and used their fast start to beat the Pioneers 52-38.
"We always talk about coming out and having a lot of energy as a team," said Lakeridge junior point guard Reese Ericson, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot. "We have to work together at the beginning and the first quarter is a chance to set the pace for the whole game. Without that big first quarter, it's going to be a very difficult game and I'm just happy we jumped out on top early."
"We talk about it before every game — first quarter's got to be our strongest quarter," said sophomore wing Keelie O'Hollaren, who led her team with 15 points and added five rebounds, three steals and two assists. "We've got to come out and hit them hard right from the beginning and I think we did that tonight."
With the win — the team's second straight — Lakeridge improved to 3-1 in Three Rivers League play and 3-1 overall. Oregon City, meanwhile, fell to 2-2 in TRL play and 2-2 overall.
"I think we just really needed to jump on them better in the first half," said Oregon City junior guard Grace Leasure, who led her team with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal. "I know I could have been better at it. We could have gone after more loose balls and we could have brought up the energy more."
"I just think we need to start off the game … with better intensity," said junior guard Kadyn Guelsdorf, who added four points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal. "I think we lack a lot of confidence because we are pretty young; we build up our confidence throughout the game, but I think we need to start the game with higher intensity and a better mindset."
Friday's first quarter was an intense, defense-minded affair that saw the Pacers race out to an 11-1 lead on Kiersten Weiler's putback 5 minutes, 38 seconds into the game, while the Pioneers turned the ball over 11 times in the period. Ericson did her part by hitting 3 of 6 shots from the field with two 3-pointers, the last of those giving Lakeridge a 14-4 lead with three seconds left in the opening quarter.
Things got worse for the Pioneers before they got better, too, with the Pacers opening the second quarter on a 9-2 run that extended their lead to 23-6. Rose Daniels got things going there when she hit a baseline jump shot from the right side, O'Hollaren hit two free throws and a 3-pointer in 30 seconds, and Kemper Flood added a jump shot to make it 23-6 with 3:58 remaining in the first half.
The Pioneers rallied to cut the Pacer lead to 13 points three times before halftime, the last of those at 27-14 on two Leasure free throws with 1:30 to go before the break. But Lakeridge finished the half strong, getting an O'Hollaren "three" set up by Addie Reardon, then adding a fast break hoop by Keely Lipp assisted by O'Hollaren for a 32-14 lead at the end of the period.
O'Hollaren was unstoppable in the quarter, hitting 4 of 5 shots from the field (including two "threes") and both her free throws for 12 points.
The Pacers kept the pressure on in the third quarter, too, opening the half with an 8-2 run that gave them their biggest lead of the game at 40-16 when O'Hollaren took an Ericson pass and buried a "three" from the top of the key with 2:26 to go in the period.
The Pioneers, still down 45-22 early in the fourth quarter, battled back with their best stretch of the game, putting together an 11-2 run over the next 4 1/2 minutes to cut Lakeridge's lead to 47-33 on two Anya Remsburg free throws with 1:55 left in the game.
Included in that stretch was a Madison Norton 3-pointer assisted by Leasure, four straight Leasure foul shots, and a Remsburg drive and two free throws — but it was too little and too late this day.
"We're a great team and we can close it when we need to," Ericson said.
"We've noticed … that we've got people all throughout the bench who can come in and do their role," O'Hollaren said.
On their side of the ledger, the Pioneers knew they'd learned a hard lesson in the loss.
"Being down at halftime going into the locker room was really what put us into hustle mode," Leasure said. "We just needed to have that second-half mentality in the first half and I think we could have won the game."
For Lakeridge, Flood and Daniels added seven points each in the win. For Oregon City, Norton finished with nine points in the loss.
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