The final game of the year for West Linn boys basketball team was a microcosm of the entire season. In a must-win game to stay in playoff contention, the Lions battled back from early deficits to take a second-half lead but were disastrous from the foul line and made a handful of costly mistakes in the fourth quarter and overtime of a 56-51 loss to Putnam.
'We didn't close the deal. There were some 50/50 plays that we didn't get. The difficult part is almost every game this year was decided by about three points and we didn't get many of those wins,' coach Aaron Downs said.
West Linn needed the win just to force a one-game playoff with the Kingsmen and, late in the fourth quarter, it appeared that plans would have to be made for Saturday.
The Lions rallied furiously after trailing by eight points at halftime to take a four-point lead. The run was keyed by some hot outside shooting, something West Linn hasn't seen much of this year.
Bryce Baker, Ryan Barnes and Tommy Patrick each connected from behind the arc. Patrick provided a huge spark off the bench for the Lions and, moments after draining his three-pointer he came back with another bucket to extend the lead to four.
'Tommy's been a rock for us all year,' Downs said.
The Lions held a lead for much of the fourth quarter. A driving hoop by Baker pushed the advantage to 44-40, but Putnam stayed alive thanks to offensive rebounds.
Still, with 1:20 to play, West Linn led by two points. Max Cathcart was fouled and hit one of two free throws. On Putnam's next possession, Jake Rickert drained a wide open three-pointer after Barnes slipped and fell on defense.
With the score tied with just under a minute to play, the Lions opted to hold for a final shot. But with eight seconds to go, Justin Monahan drove to set up a game-winning basket and lost the ball in the process.
Putnam called time-out but missed its shot at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Monahan scored the first basket. Nerves seemed to effect both teams as sloppy play prevailed for much of overtime.
The Lions missed three of four free throw attempts early in the period but still stayed tied with just over a minute to play. On the night West Linn was just 5-17 from the foul line.
Then, with 30 seconds remaining and leading by two, Kevin Schwartz was fouled and scored the bucket which all but sealed the game for the Kingsmen.
'We ran out of gas. It kind of summed up the season for us,' Downs said.
West Linn fell behind 9-2 to open the game and staged a 7-0 run to regain momentum. Then Putnam built an 11-point lead early in the second quarter before three-pointers from Barnes and Cathcart helped cut into that deficit.
'Originally we thought maybe we weren't playing good defense but when we looked at the tape they were just hitting some tough shots,' Downs said.
Cathcart found himself in foul trouble for much of the game. The senior post picked up his third foul in the second quarter and picked up his fourth just a minute into the third stanza.
Still, the Lions had many opportunities to swing the tide in their favor. One or two additional free throws could have very easily made for a different outcome.
Prior to the game, West Linn honored its seven seniors who are graduating from this year's squad. Returning for the Lions next winter will be guards Baker, Barnes and Jeff Bush and post Michael Underriner.
Putnam 17 15 6 9 9: 56
West Linn 12 12 15 8 4: 51
Ridder 22, Mihub 13, Schwartz 8, Rickert 5, Rivers 5, Clift 3, Hanson, Fredrickson.
Monahan 18, Barnes 9, Baker 7, Patrick 7, Cathcart 4, Flores 4, Underriner 2, Nicholson, Bush, Reavely, Pyrch.
All-league boys basketball
1ST Team -
Brad Tinsley, Oregon City
Elliot Babcock-Krenk, Lake O.
Sam Schafer, Oregon City
Max Jacobsen, Lake Oswego
Ali Mihub, Rex Putnam
Justin Monahan, West Linn
Player-of-the-Year: Brad Tinsley, Oregon City
Coach-of-the-Year: Mike Doherty, Oregon City
2nd Team -
Spencer Bankofier, Clackamas
Kamal Smith, Oregon City
Jon Opperud, Milwaukie
Derek Ridder, Rex Putnam
Curtis Papenfuss, Clackamas
Honorable Mention -
Jake Mauermann, Clackamas
Andrew Earnest, Clackamas
Craig Seiler, Clackamas
Nick Halberg, Lake Oswego
Josh Little, Lakeridge
Andre Dickson, Milwaukie
Ryan Huntting, Oregon City
Bryce Kinney, Oregon City
Kevin Schwartz, Rex Putnam
James Clift, Rex Putnam
Ryan Barnes, West Linn
Max Cathcart, West Linn