COOS BAY — The Southwestern Oregon Community College men’s basketball team missed another golden opportunity to move up the standings in the NWAC South Region on Wednesday, when the Lakers fell to Lane 88-81 at Prosper Hall.
For the second straight outing, the Lakers lost when they led in the second half, and when the teams they are chasing for fourth place in the league standings also lost.
A few days after losing at Clark on a late 3-pointer, the Lakers were outplayed by the Titans, who shot better, killed the Lakers on the boards and had the dominant offensive player in the game — Thurston High School graduate Isaac Lange.
Lange scored 32 points and added four assists for the Titans, seemingly coming up with a big play every time SWOCC made a surge.
“Isaac Lange is a hell of a player,” said Lane coach Matt Zosel, a Marshfield graduate in his first year leading the Titans. “The last three games he’s been incredible.”
Lange had 18 points in the first half and 14 in the second. His last hoop was a rebound basket with a minute left when Lane was clinging to a three-point lead.
Rodney Hounshell added 20 points for Lane, including four clinching free throws in the final minute — he made his last seven foul shots after missing two of his first three.
“Credit to them driving to the hoop,” SWOCC coach Trevor Hoppe said. “Those two guards (are really good).”
Lane also got key defensive contributions from post players Ty Horner and Dom McGarvey.
After trailing much of the first 30 minutes, the Lakers scored seven in a row — a 3-pointer by Mack Tarver Jr. and two layins off steals by Jael Vaughn — to go up 63-59 with just over 12 minutes to go.
Two free throws by Ike Richards put the Lakers in front by four again, but then it was the Titans’ turn to surge, with a 3-pointer and hook shot by McGarvey sandwiched around an inside hoop by Horner.
In addition, the two blocked three straight shots by SWOCC and the Lakers never got in front again.
For the second straight game, Vaughn and Tarver were the only Lakers in double figures, with Vaughn scoring 25 and Tarver 21. Javon Moore added nine.
“Even though we had 81 points, I didn’t feel like our offense had the flow that it usually has,” Hoppe said.
That was in part because the Lakers spent most of the game with an offensive mentality of drives to the hoop.
Aside from a two-minute stretch late in the first half when Vaughn got the ball to an open Anel Alagic for two straight 3-pointers and Richards fed Bell for a layin, the Lakers had just two assists in the entire game.
“We want to be the attackers, but we didn’t have the assists tonight,” Hoppe said. “They didn’t have that extra pass tonight.”
One thing the Lakers did very well was taking care of the ball, finishing with just six turnovers, to 14 for the Titans.
One thing they didn’t do well was rebound. The Titans finished with a 45-29 advantage on the boards, including a number that led to second-chance baskets.
Hounshell finished with 10 rebounds and Dylan Reichenberger had eight.
Vaughn had six rebounds and four steals for the Lakers.
The Lakers fell to 4-7 in league play and missed a chance to gain ground on Chemeketa (6-5) and Mount Hood (5-7), which also lost Wednesday.
Lane improved to 3-9 in Zosel’s first season.
“It’s been a tough season with injuries and we lost some kids to grades,” he said. “I’m super proud of the kids. They bought in. They’re still fighting.
“We’ve just been plugging away and getting better.”
On Wednesday, he said the Titans focused on trying to stop SWOCC’s 3-point shooting — the Lakers went 7-for-22 from behind the arc.
“SWOCC’s an explosive team,” he said. “Jael is hard to guard. We really tried to get out on their 3-point shooters.”
Zosel, who spent two years as a graduate assistant at the University of Oregon and coached in Phoenix last year, said he is enjoying coaching at Lane and focusing on in-state recruiting.
“We want to be the Oregon Community College team with Oregon players,” he said.
All but two of the players in uniform Wednesday are from Oregon schools, including four from the Eugene-Springfield area (all different high schools).
SWOCC, in contrast, has eight players from Utah and one from Oregon. Other South Region teams also are heavy on players from Utah or Nevada.
The Lakers have five games left to try to scramble back into the top four and get a spot in the NWAC tournament, but only two of them are at home — Feb. 22 against Portland and Feb. 26 against Umpqua.
On Saturday, they visit Clackamas.