There’s nobody in the 2B Pacific League like Luke Lovelady.
There’s nobody within three inches in this league of his 6-foot-8 height. And certainly no one in this league who can control a game in every facet — whether on the wing or in the post — like Lovelady.
He had 21 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and six assists in top-ranked Life Christian’s 66-35 victory against visiting Ilwaco on Tuesday to secure the Eagles their third consecutive 2B Pacific title and their 41st consecutive win against a league opponent.
“What do you do?” Ilwaco coach Tim Harrell said. “Luke is going to get his at this level. We’re playing 2B basketball. He’s 6-8 and you’re not going to see a lot of that at the 2Bs.
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“At the 2B level, he’s a heck of a player.”
Lovelady scored 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter, when the Eagles (17-1, 13-0 2B Pacific) built a 20-4 lead. Ilwaco then double- and triple-teamed him in the post, which just forced Lovelady to find his teammates for open looks.
CJ Kovacs had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Anthony Kunista added 10 points for Life Christian.
“When your best player is unselfish and actually enjoys watching his friends and teammates do well — man that makes it a fun team and fun to coach,” said Lovelady’s father and coach, Mark, who earned his 350th career victory.
All that remained was one of Luke Lovelady’s signature highlight-reel dunks.
The two-time reigning 2B Pacific MVP finally got that chance in the fourth quarter when Eric Overgaard Jr. lobbed the ball to Lovelady in stride on a fastbreak.
“It was a little icing on the cake,” Luke Lovelady said. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Man, am I going to get one or what?’ ”
Life Christian has won league titles before, and it has never lost a league game since dropping down from the 1A Nisqually four years ago.
But the Eagles haven’t obtained a state championship trophy yet. Mark Lovelady said he feels like this is their year after falling short the past two seasons.
Luke Lovelady said he’s been pressing the team about not getting complacent at this point in the season — and not being satisfied with an unblemished league record.
“We just had a captains meeting before this game talking about running extra and doing extra stuff and making sure the coaches are on us as much as they can,” Luke Lovelady said. “I’ve been texting guys a lot about getting in the gym outside of practice and staying late after practice for free throws.
“That’s the biggest thing — besides the two hours of practice we have and games we have to be doing extra stuff on the side. If we really want to win like I say I do and we say we do — I got to put in the work outside of practice.”
Mark Lovelady said he’s seen the tangible, on-the-court changes like much-improved interior defense — Ilwaco didn’t get much of any inside looks, especially in its four-point first quarter. But he’s also seen a closer team this season than their past two runs.
“We made a pact in practice as a group that we are going to continue to push harder — we aren’t going to slack off on the running or conditioning,” Mark Lovelady said. “We are going to take it to the next level.
“I feel like the last couple years we’ve been complacent with our league wins and then we get to state and that doesn’t work. So when we get to state, we’re going to already be in attack mode.”
Harrell was asked if he thinks Life Christian is the 2B state favorite.
“It’s going to be interesting,” he said.
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No. 1 LIFE CHRISTIAN
I: Tapio 6, Woods 2, Kaino 3, Ramsey 3, Bannister 7, Glenn 6, Merino-Ortiz 8.
LC: Eric Overgaard Jr. 5, Payton Shamp 8, Anthony Kunista 10, James Antonucci 2, Shane Cooper 5, Luke Lovelady 21, CJ Kovacs 13, Noah Robinson 2.