Lake Oswego advances

It took a big effort in a hard-fought game that was highly competitive, and that is exactly what Lake Oswego got. Showing power moves to the basket that would make Shaquille O'Neal proud, Lake Oswego sophomore center Kevin Love slammed dunked and rebounded his way to a 20 point, 14 round performance as the Lakers defeated the Redmond Panthers, 59-52.

The game played on Lake Oswego's home court was the first round of the Oregon's high school 4A playoffs.

Love also had two blocked shots in another strong performance as the Laker's big man did whatever necessary to keep the pesky Panthers at bay. An interesting match up was between the 6-foot-9 Love and Redmond's 6-foot-7 center Matt Leunen, brother of University of Oregon freshman Maarty Leunen. Leunen had the unenviable task of guarding Love but the competition was furious and physical. At one point, Love displayed a burst of emotion and enthusiasm that hasn't been seen in the state of Oregon from any team at any level including the Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers or the Portland Trailblazers. It was at that point that Love took over the game demonstrating his great power, quickness and basketball skills.

"They were double and triple teaming me," said Love regarding his performance outburst. "We just stepped it up."

Love again showed his devastating outlet pass that drew the ahs of many fans that had come to the game just to see Love play. What may have been even more impressive though were the little things that really don't have a statistical category. In one sequence, the ball was under the Redmond basket and Leunen snagged an offensive rebound but Love simply used great footwork to put him in great defensive position and caused Leunen to double-pump the ball. That allowed Lake Oswego guard Ernie Spada to move in and swipe the ball away cleanly from Leunen as the big Redmond center's attention was on Love. On the offensive end, if Love didn't have a shot he seemed to find an open man even if the play did not lead to a direct basket, the ball was kept alive and the play was unforced.

"He does so many positive things," said Rob Closs, a basketball analyst for Oregon Sports Network of Love's play. "Every time he touches the ball something good happens."

Leunen has accepted a scholarship offer to play football next year for Portland State and has signed a national letter of intent to the Vikings. Jason Klontz paced Redmond with 18 points. Lake Oswego will face Lincoln (Portland) on Saturday night.

It is hard to imagine that Lake Oswego will not at some point win a Oregon 4A championship with Love on the team. rates Love as a 5-star player and many regard him as the best high school player ever to come out of the state of Oregon. Will that championship banner be hanging in the Lakers' home gym next fall? Love was too modest to say that the Lakers will win it this year, but he is confident it will happen someday.

"I guarantee you'll see some," said Love of the championship banners that may hang from the rafters sometime in the future.

After the game, Love embraced Leunen and the two shared some camera time as family and friends snapped pictures of the two. At one point both the Leunen family and Love family joined together for a group photo. The Leunen's wished Lake Oswego well and even indicated that should Lake Oswego made the final-8 (to be played at MacArthur Court in Eugene) that they'd be rooting for Love and his teammates.

Clearly, good competition between two hardworking teams brings out the best in everybody.

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