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Shorthanded Lions drop 2 close games

West Linn saw a pair of winnable games against two of the better teams in the league fall by the wayside this past week, dropping five and six-point contests to Clackamas and Lake Oswego.

The Lions were playing without the services of leading scorer and lockdown defensive player Justin Monahan and it cost them.

But West Linn still found itself in both games. The team just couldn't convert key plays down the stretch to come away with a victory in either contest.

Against Lake Oswego West Linn was in striking distance for the entire game until a slew of tough breaks allowed the Lakers to create some breathing room.

After getting an eight-point deficit down to one point, Lake Oswego's Marcus Anthony drove to the hoop and collided with Tommy Patrick while putting up a shot.

Much to the chagrin of the West Linn fans, Patrick was called for the block and Anthony converted a crucial three-point play.

Moments later, Patrick recorded a steal on defense and was fouled. After the play, Patrick swung his elbow back and was whistled for a technical foul which gave Lake Oswego two free throws and the ball.

Early in the fourth quarter, Elliot Babcock-Krenk, who had 29 points in the game, knocked down three-pointers on back-to-back possession for Lake Oswego to up the lead to 43-33.

'We had a few missed assignment on defense where we gave them some easy looks and that hurt us,' coach Aaron Downs said.

Some tough defense and terrific rebounding by West Linn allowed the team to get within five points but the Lions couldn't get it down to a one possession game.

'I appreciated our guys' effort tonight. Lake Oswego's had success this year and we were the aggressors tonight,' Downs said.

Babcock-Krenk hit the majority of his open jump shots in the game. He had 16 points in the final quarter and 24 in the second half. This was after the senior spent the second quarter on the bench in foul trouble.

The Lions trailed by three points after the first quarter as, in an interesting turn of events, Lake Oswego deliberately slowed down the pace, holding the ball for nearly a minute in some possessions.

In years past, the Lions would occasionally implement this strategy against Lake Oswego to limit Kevin Love's possessions.

'It was a bit of a role reversal tonight,' Downs said.

West Linn stayed within a possession for most of the second quarter. The Lions dominated the paint, thwarting the Lakers' post Max Jacobsen and turning him into a non-factor.

Meanwhile Max Cathcart and Spencer Flores dominated the boards. The Lakers only hit two field goals in the second quarter but they were both three-pointers from Nick Halberg and the Lions trailed 22-19 at the break.

'Max had a nice game inside to keep us in it,' Downs said.

The Lakers quickly built an eight-point lead in the third quarter but the Lions rallied thanks to Cathcart's seven points before Lake Oswego upped the deficit to 37-31.

After Lake Oswego built a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, West Linn looked to Ryan Barnes on offense and he responded with a pair of buckets.

Bryce Baker also provided a spark, coming up with a steal and tallying seven points in the quarter. Cathcart had five rebounds in the stanza and helped give the Lions second and third opportunities as they fired away from long range in a comeback attempt.

But Babcock-Krenk hit all six of his free throws in the period to seal the win.

The loss comes after a 63-58 defeat at the hands of Clackamas. The Cavaliers took a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter and proceeded to hold onto it for virtually the entire game.

Any time the Lions were on the verge of making a run and seizing the momentum, Clackamas would answer.

'Our guys played to the end. We just couldn't get over the hump,' Downs said.

West Linn made it a two-point game heading into the fourth quarter as Cathcart and Flores had success inside.

Trailing by three points late in the game, the Lions came up with a steal but, on a lay-up attempt, Jeff Bush's leg buckled and his shot missed.

Clackamas came back and hit free throws to make it a two-possession game and the Lions couldn't get much closer.

Cathcart led the team with 16 points and Flores and Barnes had 13 apiece. The Lions will travel to Putnam this Friday.