Never was the West Linn's youth more apparent this season than it was on Tuesday at Oregon City. Even though some of the luster has worn off from the Pioneer's vaunted girls' basketball program, the team is still among the best in the state and, perhaps more importantly, still has a mental edge over much of the state.
The intimidation factor of walking onto Oregon City's home court against the most dominant program in the state's history is alive and well.
For a number of the Lions, this was their first opportunity to face off against the Pioneers. And, quite frankly, West Linn looked scared at times.
The result was a game in which the Lions committed over 30 turnovers, rushed open shots, were out-muscled on the boards and simply made the Pioneers look better than they are in a 69-32 loss.
'Honestly I don't think we're 37 points worse than this team and I think when we see them at our place we'll give them a much better game,' assistant coach Jason Ashley said.
West Linn tried to get rid of the jitters by slowing the pace down with its opening possession. The Lions took a minute off the clock, swinging the ball around the perimeter amidst heavy defensive pressure.
But when Oregon City gained possession after a missed shot, it took off running. The Pioneers got on the board first and used their infamous full-court press to discombobulate the Lions.
'Oregon City just executes so well and you have to limit your mistakes or they're going to take advantage of it,' assistant coach Ashley said.
West Linn was also hurt by the absence of starting senior point guard Rosetta Adzasu who is expected to be back in the line-up soon.
Oregon City jumped out to an 8-0 lead before an assist from Sam Dewart to Andi Maleike broke the drought. West Linn got as close as 8-4 but the turnovers and an inordinate number of offensive rebounds allowed Oregon City to build a lead.
Emily Wattman-Turner hit her first three-point attempt and had five of her seven points in the first quarter but that shot was answered quickly by the Pioneers, who took a 19-9 lead after one quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the Lions had to rely on guard play from their bench as freshman point guard Elise Miller picked up her third foul.
West Linn played solid interior defense all night as Sam Dewart and Amy Christensen routinely disrupted shots. But a trio of three-pointers from Oregon City allowed the Pioneers to extend the lead.
Natalie Pittenger scored all four of her points in the second quarter, hitting four of six free throws.
But perhaps the highlight of the period came when Britt May saw her first action of the season coming off of a knee injury.
'She's cleared and so we're bringing her back slowly and she'll definitely help us out,' Ashley said.
The game went south in the second half. West Linn turned the ball over a dozen times in the quarter leading to easy baskets for the Pioneers.
'When you play this team you can't help them out by not rebounding and turning the ball over,' Ashley said.
Oregon City dominated the glass even more thoroughly in the second half, getting numerous put-back opportunities. The Pioneers called off their press early in the fourth quarter but still held the Lions to just six points in the stanza on three of 12 shooting.
West Linn has now lost two straight games as the team fell to West Salem last Friday 39-35. Wattman-Turner and Avary Kolasinski led West Linn with nine points each but the team shot just 35% in the loss.
The Lions will travel to Milwaukie on Friday.
West Linn 9 10 7 6: 32
Oregon City 19 18 20 12: 69
Wattman-Turner 7, Christensen 6, Maleike 5, Pittenger 4, Miller 2, Dewart 2, Kolasinski 2, Sitton 2, Schumaker 2, Joscelyn, May, Stuart.
Reed 14, Gach 9, Jackson 9, Knighton 8, Holberrtoff 8, Borgmeier 6, Halberg 5, Shearer 4, Belmont 4, Cross 2, Anderson, Sleight, Anderson.