EUGENE — Lake Oswego center Kevin Love seemed like a shoo-in to notch the all-time state scoring record when he took the court against Sheldon in a semifinal game of the Class 6A state basketball tournament Friday at McArthur Court.
After all, the 6-foot-10, 255-pound senior needed just three points.
But with Sheldon holding the ball on offense and surrounding Love with a triangle-and-two defense, nothing was certain.
But with 2:57 to play in the first quarter, Love muscled his way inside for his third and fourth points of the game. And the record was his.
Love eclipsed the mark of Bob "Pudgy" Hunt, who totaled 2,584 points for Knappa High from 1954-57. Love now has 2,591 points and can add to that total during tonight's state championship game.
Love finished with just nine points — the first time he hasn't reached double figures since he was injured in a game against Rex Putnam early last season — but Lake Oswego eked out a 28-25 victory over the upset-minded Irish.
"It means a lot to me because a lot of time and effort has gone into this," Love said as he towered above reporters in a Mac Court locker room after the game. "But winning a state title means more."
Love surely could have snagged the record a day earlier after scoring 41 points in a 60-33 quarterfinals romp over Westview. He was pulled after converting a three-point play with five minutes left in the game and the Lakers holding a huge lead.
"He was six points shy (of the record) but there was no use leaving him in the game in that situation," Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff said. "We had a kid at the table waiting to sub in, and then he (Love) scores on a three-point play.
"I was thinking, what the heck, leave him in and get the record, but pulling him was still the prudent thing to do. We knew he still had two games to get it."
SHOFF AND LOVE both admitted they wanted to play South Medford in tonight's title game.
"It's what the fans have been wanting all season," Shoff said. "It's the perfect game to showcase Love and (Kyle) Singler."
Love also wanted to gain some revenge on the Panthers, who handed the Lakers a 71-63 loss at the Les Schwab Invitational in December.
"We've come a long ways since that game," Love said.
Love said the Lakers' 61-52 win over nationally ranked Mater Dei on the road in January was a big confidence-booster.
"They had four guys 6-7 or taller and it showed we could beat a team of that caliber," he said.
LOVE ISN'T KNOWN for his quickness, but it was his steal, layup and three-point play that accounted for the only fourth-quarter points of the Lakers' win over Sheldon.
Love stepped in front of Sheldon center Blake Poole and needed just four dribbles to cover 70 feet and get to the basket. He was fouled from behind and sank the free throw, which broke a 25-all tie.
Love has been on a stringent diet and exercise program over the past year that has allowed him to drop about 10 pounds and add muscle.
Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org