You could excuse the Lake Oswego boys basketball team if they had a bit of competitive whiplash.
The Lakers were scheduled to open the 2021 Les Schwab Invitational against Gonzaga College High School of Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Dec. 26, but when the Eagles pulled out of the LSI at the last minute, Lake Oswego had to re-rack its mindset and game plan to face Vancouver, Washington's Evergreen High School.
Despite that — and Sunday's snow — the Lakers came out focused, determined and ready, factors that set the table for their 78-37 win at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
"We thought we were going to play Gonzaga so we just came out like we were going to play Gonzaga and beat (Evergreen) by 40," said Lake Oswego senior wing Christian Rowell, who finished with 13 points (on 5 of 15 shooting from the field, including 2 of 5 3-pointers and a 1 of 2 day at the foul line), along with four rebounds, two assists and one steal. "We try to play to our standards every game."
"It was a good 'W.' It was a good first win," said Laker freshman wing Winters Grady, who led all scorers with 16 points (on 7 of 10 shooting from the field, including 1 of 3 "threes" and a 1 of 2 day at the foul line), along with five rebounds, two assists, one block and two steals. "We're just always a 'next play' type of team. If someone dunks on someone — next play. If someone fouls — next play. It's always next play, including if it's a game."
"We were excited. Everyone in that locker room, it was our first time getting to come out and play at the LSI," added senior guard Carson Reno, who added 11 points (on 4 of 4 shooting from the field, including 2 of 2 3-pointers and a 1 of 1 day at the foul line), along with six rebounds, two assists and one steal. "The big thing was just mindset. … The big thing was just coming out ready. … It doesn't matter who we play."
With the victory, the Lakers won for the second time in three games and improved to 2-5 overall, while the Plainsmen lost for the second straight time and fell to 3-3 overall.
Evergreen was led by senior Juelz Mendoza, who scored nine points (on 3 of 10 shooting from the field, including 1 of 3 "threes" and a 2 of 4 day at the foul line), along with four rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one steal. Fellow senior Delo Doutrive added six points (on 0 of 5 shooting from the field, including 0 of 1 3-pointers and a 6 of 6 day at the foul line), along with two rebounds and one assist.
While the Lakers kept their foot on the accelerator throughout the game, they basically won this contest in the first half, grabbing a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, then stretching their edge to 32 points — to 46-14 — at halftime.
Grady led the way in his team's runaway first quarter, scoring seven points on 3 of 5 shooting from the field (including one "three") and grabbing two rebounds, while senior guard Luke Brauner added five points (including a 3-pointer) and Rowell four, including a fast break dunk assisted by Brauner.
There was more to come — a lot more — for the Lakers in the second quarter. With the Lake Oswego defense dictating things on its end of the court — the Lakers held the Plainsmen to 9% shooting in the first half — the LO offense was free to do what it needed on the other end.
Reno led the way there, scoring nine points (on 3 of 3 shooting from the field, including two "threes" and 1 of 2 free throws) and adding two rebounds and an assist, while Rowell tacked on another seven points and Grady six.
LO's second-quarter lead crested at 32 points when Reno buried a "three" from the left corner assisted by Brauner near the end of the half and still led 46-14 at the break.
"We got into it," Rowell said. "(We used our) help defense and talked to each other all the time, we got our rotations, made one more pass — just doing our fundamentals."
"We are a defensive team," Reno said. "That's what we take pride in, so when we're in the right rotation and talking, that's what we've got to do every time."
In the second half, the Lakers' third-quarter lead blossomed to 62-21 when senior guard Caden Saefke connected on a baseline drive, while in the fourth quarter, it crested at 76-31 when Rowell connected on a putback in the final minutes.
Next up, the Lakers face top-ranked Tualatin in the tournament quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28.
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