Battling No. 2 and No. 1 back-to-back, the Lakers cant quite steal a win

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Lake Oswego's Max Dinesen drives to the hoop in the Lakers' game against No. 1 West Linn Tuesday.It continues to be difficult to figure out the Lake Oswego boys basketball team. Taking on the top two teams in the state back-to-back, the Lakers looked every bit as good as both Clackamas and West Linn at times.

Against the Cavaliers, Lake Oswego had a shot to win the game in a 55-54 loss and, against the Lions, the Lakers were routed in the opening half before shutting down the defending state champion's offense and rallying back into contention in a 72-64 defeat.

Facing West Linn at home Tuesday, not much went right early on for the Lakers. West Linn shot the ball exceptionally well in the first two quarters and got contributions up and down the line-up.

Lake Oswego tried to keep pace and match the Lions shot for shot but simply couldn't keep up. The Lakers did succeed in getting the Lions into early foul trouble but trailed 24-13 after the opening quarter.

It continued to be more of the same in the second stanza. West Linn drained eight 3-pointers in the first half as Lake Oswego struggled to contain its shooters.

“We told the guys heading into the game that the recipe to get your butts kicked was to try and run with West Linn,” coach Mark Shoff said.

Zach Parker keyed the Lakers' offense early. Parker had 12 of his 16 points in the first half, including nine of his team's 13 points in the second period alone.

Still, the Lakers trailed 48-26 at the half.

However, the game shifted early in the third quarter. Lake Oswego opened the third period on an 8-0 run, getting nice drives to the hoop from Jazz Johnson.

It became a 13-4 run as the Lakers drastically altered the pace of the game. West Linn was forced into a half-court game and began having less success shooting the ball. After a blistering start, the Lions were held to just two field goals in the third quarter and the Lakers cut the lead to 55-42.

“We just went back to more of our base defense because what we were doing wasn't working,” Shoff said.

West Linn continued to struggle from the field in the fourth quarter as the Lakers stayed calm and deliberate offensively.

“We spread them out and made eight to 10 passes before shooting and I think it took (West Linn) out of its rhythm,” Shoff said.

Max Dinesen had 10 of his 12 points in the second half and, with 2:30 left in the game, the Lakers had cut the lead to 10 points.

However, West Linn countered with five quick points from Ryan Shearmire and that was enough to just put the game out of reach.

Lake Oswego closed the game with a flurry, getting a late bucket to make it an eight-point game.

Johnson finished with a game-high 22 points.

Friday, the Lakers nearly picked up their biggest win of the season.

Lake Oswego climbed back from multiple deficits and had a chance to top Clackamas on the final possession but came up just short.

The Lakers fell behind early but stayed within striking distance and only trailed by one point at the half.

Clackamas found its rhythm on offense in the third quarter, rebuilding a lead and holding a 45-40 advantage heading into the final period.

Unlike the West Linn game where multiple players contributed on offense, just four players scored for Lake Oswego against Clackamas and Johnson and Parker had 41 of the team's 54 points.

The Lakers battled back, tying the game at 54-54 before committing a foul. The Cavaliers hit one of the free throws in the closing seconds and it proved to be enough for the victory.

Lake Oswego will take on Oregon City Friday.

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