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Lady Lions compete well to start year

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN Sidney Kolasinski eyes the basket during West Linn’s season-opening victory over Barlow on Friday.

The West Linn girls basketball team got its season started with another successful Tip-Off Classic last week, knocking off Barlow in the opener before coming up short to Glencoe in the championship game.

The Lions then more than held their own against perennial powerhouse Southridge, coming back from a double-digit deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter before falling 50-43.

In the Tip-Off Classic, West Linn shook off some rust in its opener, withstanding a late run from Barlow in a 46-35 win.

The Lions jumped out to an early lead in the game with point guard Brittany Smith scoring six of the team's first 11 points and assisting on another basket.

Barlow's Chanel Celis hit a pair of three-pointers to keep the Bruins in the game while the Lions were cold from the outside for much of the contest.

West Linn extended its lead in the second quarter, getting great hustle from post Genna Hughes.

She ended the game with six rebounds and had three assists, two of which went to Mikayla Kraemer late in the half.

A late three-pointer by Barlow would cut the lead to 27-18.

West Linn enjoyed a healthy advantage in the paint for the game and continued to exploit it early in the second half.

Kraemer found early success in the third quarter and helped get Barlow into early foul trouble.

However, free throw shooting was a sticking point for West Linn as the team knocked down just 15 of 37 attempts.

Smith hit the team's first three-pointer in the quarter but the Lions were still cold from the outside and allowed Barlow to hang around.

The Bruins would claw back from being down 13 points to make it a five-point game early in the fourth quarter before Ashley Johnson knocked down a big three of her own, allowing the Lions to put the win away.

Smith ended the game with 15 points and Johnson ended with 11 while Kraemer and Izzy Romero combined for 18 rebounds.

"Our posts, Mikayla, Izzy and Genna are all doing a phenomenal job," coach Glen Lee said.

In the championship game against Glencoe, the Lions made a concerted effort to slow down the team's 6'2" post Marly Anderson.

Anderson had only four points in the game and pulled down 11 rebounds but the team was done in by senior guard Kaylie Van Loo.

Van Loo exploded for 25 of the team's 47 points and made clutch plays in the second half to help Glencoe pull away.

"We were doubling Anderson a lot and that didn't give us much help on the back side and they took advantage of that," Lee said.

The Lions led by two after the first quarter and only trailed by two points at the half but had another subpar night shooting.

West Linn did hit five three-pointers in the game but didn't have an answer for Van Loo on defense.

Romero led the Lions in scoring with 10 points and Smith added nine to go along with a team-high eight rebounds.

However, West Linn had 22 turnovers in the game compared to just 11 from Glencoe.

The Lions then hosted Southridge on Tuesday and fell behind early but managed to come all the way back from a 12-point deficit before the Skyhawks put things away in the final minutes.

West Linn's posts collectively put together a nice effort, both in containing the Skyhawks' talented post and contributing on offense.

A brief lull in the second period allowed Southridge to build a lead at the half but aside from that brief stretch, the Lions played the Skyhawks evenly.

"They had a couple of leak-outs against us and were able to take us one-on-one and their point guard hit three three-pointers which was kind of the difference," Lee said.

West Linn got a terrific game from Julia Boyd-Helm who came off the bench to lead West Linn with 13 points.

She also played terrific defense to pace the Lions.

"That was a breakout game for Julia and maybe the best game of her high school career," Lee said.

West Linn trailed by nine heading into the fourth quarter but steadily chipped away, bolstered by a much better night at the foul line as the team hit 14 of 17 attempts.

But the Lions simply ran out of steam in the final minutes. West Linn missed a handful of shots from close to the basket in the game and it cost the team down the stretch.

West Linn has taken on three solid opponents and gradually improved in each game.

"Every team is scrambling to make adjustments right now. There's a lot of on the job training but we're competing really well," lee said.

The Lions will travel to Tigard on Friday and hope to have guard Karly LeVeque back for the contest.