Lady Lions start slow, finish fast in Arizona

West Linn enters league play with solid 8-3 record

It took two games but the West Linn girls eventually found their stride in Arizona. After a pair of difficult games against talented opponents, the Lions won their final game of the tournament convincingly, knocking off Alameda from California 65-52.

In the game, Rosetta Adzasu broke out of a slump and exploded for a near triple-double. The senior point guard had 23 points, 17 in the first half, to go along with eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals. That effort alone was good enough to land her a spot on the tournament's all-star team.

'Rose flat-out dominated. Some of the other coaches talked to me afterwards and were asking me where she had been in the first two games,' coach Glen Lee said.

West Linn took an early lead in the contest and never looked back. The Lions put up 19 points in the opening quarter. Adzasu led the Lions' transition game while Sam Dewart controlled the paint. Dewart had six points in the opening stanza.

West Linn had easily its best shooting game of the tournament, knocking down nearly 51 percent of its shots. Much of that was due to the Lions forcing turnovers and converting them into points. As a result, West Linn had 40 points in the paint compared to just 14 for Alameda.

'We were hitting on all cylinders,' Lee said.

The Lions kept Alameda at arm's length after taking a 12-point lead at the half. Morgan Joscelyn got the start for the Lions and responded with solid defense on one of Alameda's top scorers.

Heading into the game, the Lions watched the video tape from the previous night's loss and it worked to motivate them.

'I think the girls were kind of disgusted (with the tape.) We've done really well in the next game every time we've watched the tape together. Maybe that's something we need to do more often,' Lee said.

The effort got West Linn back into the win column in its final game before opening league play.

In its opening game of the tournament, the Lions took on Riverside, Canada, a team that had yet to lose this season. Riverside didn't show West Linn much mercy, forcing 26 turnovers.

'We had some adversity. We didn't know anything about these teams so the kids had to adjust on the fly which was a good experience for them,' Lee said.

The Lions were faced with a 52-24 deficit after three quarters and struggled getting into a rhythm. They didn't help themselves out either, shooting just 30 percent from the field.

Emily Wattman-Turner led the Lions in scoring with 12 points and had six rebounds. Dewart had 10 points and five boards. A bright spot for West Linn was the play of Jennifer Sitton, who has been playing on the junior varsity team this year.

Sitton saw eight minutes of action and, in that time, hauled in six rebounds and blocked a shot. Amy Christensen also had six rebounds for the Lions.

West Linn's second game of the tournament was against Riverdale, Tennessee, a team that Lee described as 'the Oregon City of Tennessee.' Riverdale has been something of a dynasty in its home state and went on to win its bracket in the tournament.

But the Lions stayed with the Warriors. Riverdale had an 11-point lead at the end of the first half but West Linn rallied, cutting it to just four points heading into the final quarter.

Again, the Lions struggled shooting the ball. The team hit just 29.7 percent from the field and only knocked down one of 11 three-point attempts.

Adzasu fouled out of the contest as well, putting the Lions at a disadvantage in crunch time. But freshman point guard Elise Miller filled in nicely. Miller was the team's second-leading scorer with seven points.

'Elise is kind of an energizer for us. She and Kelsey Stuart gave us some good minutes,' Lee said.

West Linn played good team defense to keep itself in contention but, in the end, the Lions couldn't get over the hump and were saddled with their second straight loss.

Overall, the tournament was a good experience for the Lions as every girl on the roster saw significant playing time and it provided a good bonding experience for the players as they watched USC and UCLA play.

'I was happy with our effort and it was good to get a win in our last game. The main goal from tournaments like this is to stay healthy and get everybody into the games and we did that,' Lee said.

Now the Lions will gear up for Friday's league opener against Putnam, a team that West Linn has dominated in year's past. However, the Kingsmen possess a more talented team than they have in the past few seasons.

'Putnam's the most improved team in the league. They have three scorers who are getting it done for them right now,' Lee said.

West Linn will then take on Lakeridge next Tuesday.