No. 1 too much for Lions

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Bryce Baker slashes to the hoop during West Linn’s home game against Oregon City on Tuesday. Baker led the Lions in scoring with 10 points but the Pioneers’ offense proved difficult to stop.

Take away the second quarter and West Linn would have been right there against the state's top team. Unfortunately for the Lions, OSAA rules prohibit the random eliminating of eight-minute chunks of time. So the Lions will have to live with a 72-51 defeat against No. 1 Oregon City.

Facing the state's best team in league play has become practically routine for West Linn. In the previous two years, Lake Oswego was seated at the top of the polls for much of the year and now it's the Pioneers' turn.

Oregon City possesses an athletic team loaded with shooters and is also home to one of the state's best individual players in Brad Tinsley.

West Linn stayed with Oregon City through the opening period, knocking down some early shots against the Pioneers' zone.

On the night the Lions, who have had ice-cold nights from beyond the arc at times this season, hit eight of 19 three-pointers.

West Linn trailed 15-12 heading into the second quarter but that is as close as they would get for the rest of the night.

The Lions struggled on offense as Oregon City's post Sam Schafer disrupted numerous shots inside. West Linn also couldn't find its shooter's touch from inside the paint.

'We missed some easy shots and they changed some shots around the rim,' coach Aaron Downs said.

As a result, the team put up a single point in the second quarter, digging itself a big hole against its toughest opponent this year.

'When you play Oregon City, your margin for error shrinks dramatically. They're a great team that's going to get 15 points a quarter and you have to hit shots against their zone,' Downs said.

The Lions trailed by 18 heading into the second half. From there, West Linn played even with the visiting Pioneers but could never chip into the deficit.

Oregon City extended its lead to over 20 points as the Pioneers keyed on Justin Monahan defensively. Heading into the game, Monahan had been one of the hotter players in the state but he was held to nine points on just two of 10 shooting.

'That hurt us because Justin's been our rock and they clamped down on him,' Downs said.

Nine players scored for West Linn on the night and Bryce Baker led the Lions with 10 points. West Linn's top inside players, Max Cathcart and Spencer Flores, were held to a combined five points.

The Lions opted not to break out any gimmick defense against the high-scoring Pioneers.

Tinsley scored close to his season average, knocking down 23 points and Schafer was held to just eight points while playing good defense.

But Oregon City's role players knocked down open shots allowing the Pioneers to keep momentum throughout the game.

'We wanted to go in and play tough-nosed basketball. Tinsley hit some tough shots and their other guys stepped up,' Downs said.

The Lions' first league loss comes on the heels on a non-league victory over West Salem. West Linn had one of its best opening quarters of the year, jumping out to a 21-14 lead.

Guard Ryan Barnes had 15 of those 21 points, hitting three straight three-pointers at one point. Barnes was West Linn's spark on offense for much of the evening, exploding for a career-high 26.

The Lions put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Titans by 11 in the stanza.

'It was a great game. We took it to them and got to give our subs a lot of minutes. We wanted this one because (West Salem) got us in football,' Downs said.

West Linn's next game is at home on Friday against 3-11 Milwaukie.