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Lions play well at Hoopin on the Hill

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN Megan Longtain makes a drive to the basket during West Linn’s opening round victory over Cleveland last Friday at West Linn High School.

This year's Hoopin' on the Hill tournament was the largest since West Linn took the event over and it proved to be its most successful effort yet.

The tournament, which featured more than 100 games at locations all over West Linn for freshman, JV and varsity players, brought in some of the state's top teams and athletes, money for West Linn's programs, and the Lions had plenty of success on the court as well.

West Linn's varsity team advanced to the finals of the Gold bracket, losing only to the eventual champions from St. Mary's.

St. Mary's steamrolled the competition, taking down four Three Rivers League teams in succession before topping Central Catholic in the championship.

"They're the real deal. They have a number of studs who are pretty tough to handle," coach Glen Lee said.

It was the furthest that the Lions have advanced in their own tournament.

West Linn got off to a strong start on Friday evening, using a late first-half burst to take control of its game against Cleveland.

The Lions' quickness and tough defense served them well throughout the tournament.

"We're very athletic and so we've been focusing on getting up and down the court quickly and finishing at the basket," Lee said.

Next up for West Linn was Glencoe, a team ranked in the top 10 for much of last season.

The Lions ground out a solid 49-40 victory to advance in the championship bracket.

The Lions then faced South Eugene, a team that has been a powerhouse over the past few seasons.

Once again West Linn played well, getting contributions from numerous players in a close 39-33 victory.

But in the Gold bracket final, St. Mary's was simply too tough.

St. Mary's has size and quickness and jumped out to a 20-2 lead that the Lions never recovered from.

It was still a solid overall performance for West Linn and the team has gotten off to a strong start to its summer season.

"We're just trying to get a lot of kids on the floor. It's been a great learning experience and I'm really pleased with how everyone is playing," Lee said.

West Linn's JV team also had a very strong run. In the 16-team bracket, the Lions advanced to the championship game for the second year in a row, losing only to St. Mary's in a terrific double-overtime showdown.

But the biggest winners of the entire event were the tournament itself and West Linn's program.

The jump to a 32-team varsity bracket went off without a hitch. Games ran on time and, once again, Lee received nothing but positive comments.

"It's getting more notoriety. It's become a staple on a lot of people's summer schedules. We've already heard from a lot of the teams that they're planning on coming back," Lee said.

West Linn got a huge lift from its devoted group of volunteers.

"We absolutely couldn't do any of this without the parents and incredible volunteers. They do such a phenomenal job," Lee said.

Lee hopes the tournament will continue to be as successful as it has been for the past few years and that the event will continue to attract many of the top high school programs in the state.