The Lady Lions are slowly moving up in the state rankings but, in what should be encouraging to West Linn, and perhaps frightening for the Three Rivers League, they haven't come close to playing their best basketball yet.
The Lions' most recent victory came on Tuesday against West Salem. In front of a number of alumni who were back in town for the holidays, the Lions out-hustled the Titans in the second half en route to a 59-43 victory.
'It's December and there's still a lot to work on. I think we had a good effort tonight but still made too many errors,' coach Glen Lee said.
West Linn built an 11-4 lead midway through the opening quarter and never looked back from there. A pair of slashing drives by Rosetta Adzasu highlighted the early run and the Titans hurt themselves with turnovers, getting called for a trio of three-in-the-key infractions in the opening eight minutes.
Then, in the final 45 seconds of the first quarter, Emily Wattman-Turner knocked down back-to-back hoops, giving her team a 15-7 advantage.
'We wanted to play with some passion tonight. We're never satisfied, that's kind of our motto,' Wattman-Turner said.
Wattman-Turner continued her strong play to open up the second quarter. Spelling Adzasu at point guard, Wattman-Turner knocked down a three-pointer early in the second quarter and helped the Lions build a double-digit lead.
'That's senior leadership. She did some nice things for us tonight,' Lee said.
But then some sloppy play and numerous missed lay-ups stymied West Linn on offense and the Titans were able to cut the lead to 27-19 at the half.
West Salem ate into the lead even further, scoring two quick baskets to open the third quarter, making it a four-point game.
After a time-out, the Lions responded with aggressive play. West Linn pressured West Salem's ball-handlers, leading to a number of turnovers and the Lions went after every loose ball.
'We benefited from those hustle plays in the second half which was good to see,' Lee said.
The result was an 8-0 run that quickly put West Salem back on its heels. The Titans never fully recovered. Even with the Lions' Sam Dewart picking up her fourth foul, West Linn played stellar defense.
'I think we picked up our intensity and that was the difference,' Wattman-Turner said.
Avary Kolasinski had back-to-back hoops off assists by Adzasu and Morgan Joscelyn hit a late jump-shot to cap another West Linn run, giving the hosts a 46-30 lead with one quarter to play.
The Lions continued their aggressive play in the fourth quarter and built a 20-point lead to put the game away. West Linn then was able to empty its bench.
Wattman-Turner led the Lions with 15 points. Adzasu added 13 to go along with five rebounds and seven steals. Dewart had 12 points and Joscelyn had a great night on defense. Coming off the bench, she had four rebounds and three steals.
West Linn also took down Sprague on the road last week, rallying from an early double-digit deficit for the 54-50 victory.
The Lions struggled from the field, shooting 32.4% and hitting only two three-pointers on the night. But the team's pressure forced 29 turnovers from Sprague to key the rally.
Sprague led 21-8 after the first quarter but the Lions were quick to respond. West Linn only gave up 14 points in the next two quarter combined. The Lions trailed by three and the half and built a five-point lead heading into the final quarter.
For the game, West Linn amassed 20 steals with Adzasu and Wattman-Turner combining for 11. That pair also combined for 30 points to lead the Lions.
West Linn kept its slim lead through the fourth quarter, grinding out a win on a night when not everything was clicking.
'We didn't do a good job recognizing who their shooters were but it was good to pick up the road win,' Lee said.
Dewart had 13 points and eight rebounds against the Olympians while Kolasinski added seven rebounds.
1. Southridge (7) 70
2. Central Catholic 63
3. Oregon City 55
4. Clackamas 42
5. Sheldon 41
6. Tualatin 26
7. West Linn 25
8. Sunset 14
9. Canby 13
10. Jesuit 12
10. (tie) Tigard 12
Others: Lincoln 5, North Medford 3, Reynolds 3, Grants Pass 1.