Lady Lions come up short at Sheldon
After seeing the Sheldon Irish roll over Tualatin with relative ease to earn a spot in the girls basketball state tournament, West Linn had to wonder about what might have been. The Lions knew that Sheldon would pose a significant obstacle as the team knows what it takes to get to the Chiles Center.
That being said, West Linn played far short of its best game against the Irish but stayed in the game for the better part of three quarters. In the end, the Lions couldn't make a dent in Sheldon's lead in the fourth quarter and the Irish hit 18 free throws in the final stanza to clinch a 61-42 victory.
'The final score wasn't indicative of how close the game was. We got behind by a few possessions and had to play the foul game and they won it at the line,' coach Glen Lee said.
It was a difficult end to the season for the Lions as the team has made the playoffs for three straight years and finished one game short of the state tournament in two of those seasons.
Last Wednesday West Linn never seemed to be able to get into a rhythm.
The Irish took a slim 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, capitalizing on a poor shooting night by the Lions.
'We just weren't hitting shots we normally hit. I think we were a little tight,' Lee said.
The team struggled inside, missing a number of early looks from close to the hoop and the Irish also had a sizeable rebounding edge for the majority of the game.
'They were more physical than we were and we missed some chances early that would have given us some confidence,' Lee said.
But the Lions were within striking distance for nearly the entire game as well. Rosetta Adzasu, who was still favoring a sore knee, provided nearly half of West Linn's offense, scoring 20 points in the game.
However, she lacked the explosiveness that makes her one of the most dangerous players in the state.
'Rose was definitely not 100%. She didn't complain about her knee but she wasn't the quickest player on the court like she is normally,' Lee said.
Defensively, West Linn was able to crack down on Sheldon's post players but Katie Steigleman proved difficult to stop. The senior had a game-high 24 points and was routinely called upon to knock down a big shot for the Irish.
When the Lions cut the deficit to one point in the second half, Steigleman responded by hitting a pair of three-pointers to shift the momentum back in her team's favor.
'They had some girls who had been there before and their seniors really stepped up,' Lee said.
West Linn could never get the lead back to one possession and the team was forced to foul in order to prevent Sheldon from running large chunks of time off the clock.
And the Irish were clutch from the foul line, extending the lead late as West Linn continued to have trouble getting off clean looks at the basket.
The Lions ended the season 17-8, finishing in a tie for second place in the league and racking up a handful of impressive victories along the way.
The team will greatly miss its four graduating seniors, Adzasu, Emily Wattman-Turner, Sam Dewart and Natalie Pittenger but the team also has a strong core of younger players.
Junior point guard Britt May will return after missing the bulk of this season with an injury as will guards Andi Maleike and Elise Miller.
Freshman post Amy Christensen should also be a huge contributor next season along with Morgan Joscelyn and Avary Kolasinski.
'We had a lot of young players see significant time on the court this year and that will pay huge dividends down the road. Our JV team had a great year and we have a good crop of freshman coming in. I expect us to be in the upper echelon in the league again next year,' Lee said.
Most of the teams in the Three Rivers League are also graduating key players which should make for a wide open year.
West Linn 7 10 11 14: 42
Sheldon 12 12 10 27: 61
Adzasu 20, Dewart 7, Christensen 5, Wattman-Turner 4, Pittenger 2, Joscelyn 2, Maleike 2, May, Miller, Kolasinski, Sitton, Schumaker.
Steigleman 24, Ward 13, Anderson 10, Th. Brown 8, Ta. Brown 3, Hauser 2, King 1, Gray, Pangilinan, Girod, Frohlich.