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Kingsmen nab a playoff spot

Putnam wins an overtime thriller at West Linn to claim the TRL's final berth in the Class 6A playoffs

WEST LINN - The Rex Putnam Kingsmen got it done at crunch time and earned the Three Rivers League's fourth berth in the Class 6A state playoffs, winning a 56-51 overtime thriller at West Linn last Thursday.

The Kingsmen (12-12, 5-7) meet the sixth-ranked Mt. Hood Conference champion Central Catholic Rams (18-6, 13-1) tonight at 7:15 in the first round of the playoffs.

It's Putnam's first trip to postseason play since the 2003-04 season, when Putnam finished third in league (10-4), behind Oregon City (12-2) and Lake Oswego (11-3).

'As long as we are able to move the ball, control the tempo and not turn the ball over, we believe we can play with anybody,' said Putnam assistant coach Tyler Rose.

Rose said it was offensive execution and his Kingsmen's passing game that earned them the overtime win at West Linn.

The Kingsmen executed well from the start and were on top through most of the first half. West Linn hit some 3's and made a run in the third period, and the fourth quarter was a seesaw affair.

Jake Rickert hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining in regulation to knot the score at 47-all and bring about the overtime. The Kingsmen stole the ball and Kevin Schwartz drove the lane as time wound down, but there was a no-call on what appeared to be a foul.

Derek Ridder stole the ball early in the extra period and made a no-look pass to Schwartz on the fast break that Schwartz turned into a 3-point play and a 53-50 Kingsmen lead.

Schwartz hit two free throws in the ensuing play to seal the victory.

'This was a team victory,' said Rose. 'Everyone who stepped on the floor contributed in some way. Kevin had six big points down the stretch. Robby Rivers came off the bench for James Clift in the fourth quarter when James got in foul trouble and made two big baskets, one of them a putback of his own miss; Derek Ridder hit some huge 3-pointers early on….'

Ridder finished with a game-high 22 points, going 5-for-7 from 3-point land.

Ali Mihub (7 rebounds) led the Kingsmen to a 28-22 edge on the backboards.

Rickert, Ridder and Schwartz sparked the offense with some nifty passes. They had nine assists between them.

Justin Monahan (18 points) was the top point-getter for West Linn.

With the loss, West Linn finished the season with a 3-9 record in league and an overall record of 8-16. Had the Lions won Thursday's game they would have tied Putnam for fourth place and a league playoff game between the two teams would have followed.