Lakeridge girls basketball fends off Newberg 49-40
The Lakeridge girls basketball team was down two starters for Friday night's road game at Newberg, but it sure didn't seem like it.
The Pacers and Tigers entered the contest tied for fifth-place in the Three Rivers League, but it was Lakeridge that made a move in the playoff chase, downing Newberg 49-40 to move into a tie for fourth and the conference's final playoff spot.
"Any road win we're happy with and the fact that we were down two starters to injuries makes it even sweeter," head coach Jason Brown said. "We had girls really step up, especially our freshman Addie. Anna Garrison led us in rebounding with nine, so she was able to step up and play too. We had some stretches where we got a little out of sorts, but we were able to bring it back, settle down and finish it off. It was a pretty exciting win."
The Pacers got key contributions from up and down the lineup, beginning with senior guard Laura Barton, who scored the team's first seven points, all on outside shots.
"Laura the last couple of games hasn't shot the ball a whole lot, so we had a conversation and I asked her to get back to shooting the ball," Brown said. "She got us off to a really good start. She was hot from the beginning."
Barton's efforts helped Lakeridge stake an early 9-3 lead, but the Tigers scored the next five to tighten things up.
After finishing the first tied 13-13, Newberg took control midway through the second quarter, with Giselle Benetti putting the home team up 20-15 on a 3-pointer with 3:09 to go before halftime.
The lead was still at five points before junior wing Brooke Clinton canned a triple of her own with 1:22 remaining in the quarter, but she added a second just over a minute later to give the Pacers the lead, 23-22.
Senior guard Sierra Zevenbergen then sent Lakeridge into the locker room with all the momentum by sinking a 10-foot floater as the first-half buzzer sounded to make it 25-22.
More importantly, the Pacers continued the run to start the second half.
Again it was Clinton who sparked things, getting a steal and a fast-break lay-up to open the third. She added another 3-pointer in the first minute of the period by the time Zevenbergen hit one of two free throws at the 5:30 mark, Lakeridge has scored 16 unanswered points on 8-0 runs on either side of halftime to go up 33-22.
"We had a really good run to open the second half," Brown said. "We extended our pressure and got into our full court and were able to create a lot of turnovers and get some easy buckets. We needed to play at a faster pace and kind of speed them up to create opportunities for us."
The Pacers kept the lead around 10 points for most of the second half, although Newberg made a push in the fourth quarter, getting as close as six points at 44-38 with 3:41 to play.
Both teams misfired a few times over the next two minutes before Clinton put the game away with a pair of free throws in the final minute.
"I'm just proud of our team for keeping the lead," Zevenbergen said. "It was kind of close in the beginning and in the third quarter we extended that. In the past we've kind of struggled with the third quarter, so I'm happy about that."
It was a frustrating night for the Tigers, who went 5 for 23 on 3-pointers and struggled to finish several of its good looks in the paint.
"We go through spurts where we can play pretty well and then we just go dry and go dry for long periods," head coach Luke Lindell said. "That's tough on your defense and I thought our transition defense at times struggled at times. A lot of that's caused by us not shooting the ball particularly well from the perimeter and those long rebounds lead to transition opportunities for them. That's kind of what hurt us at the end of that second quarter. They hit us and we just never really recovered."
Giselle Bennetti led the Tigers with 13 points, with sophomore Reneé Lee adding 11 and freshman Lexi Morace chipping in eight.
"You have to give a lot of credit to Lakeridge," Lindell said. "What (Brown's) done to turn them around is great. He's brought some structure and some hope and they're playing good basketball."
Clinton led balanced Lakeridge attack with 13 points. Freshman wing Addie Reardon came through with 12 points after getting extended playing time, with Barton finishing with nine and Zevenbergen eight.
"Brooke has been our steadiest scorer here the last two weeks," Brown said. "She's playing under control, she's seeing her teammates and has just stepped it up for us."
With the win, the Pacers (9-6, 3-4) moved into a tie for fourth place with Tualatin (7-8, 3-4), a team they've already beaten on the road. Lakeridge will return to play Tuesday at home versus third-place Canby (10-5, 5-2), while Newberg (4-11, 2-5) will travel to St. Mary's (4-11, 1-6).