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The Lions fall to the eventual champions but top Jesuit and Sheldon to take 8th

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Julia Boyd-Helm drives against a Central Catholic defender during the team's first-round game of the Interstate Shootout.West Linn's girls basketball team held its own against some of the top competition in the state last week, advancing to the consolation final of the championship bracket of the annual Insterstate Shootout at Lake Oswego High School.

The Lions finished in eighth place overall with impressive wins over Jesuit and Sheldon in the process.

“Confidence is huge for us right now and we beat two quality teams. I'm happy with how we stepped up after a tough start,” coach Glen Lee said.

It was a strong showing for the young West Linn team which has played a daunting early schedule.

West Linn rebounded from a difficult opening game. The Lions drew Central Catholic to open the tournament and the Rams wasted no time exerting their authority.

Central Catholic had a significant size advantage against the Lions and used that to its advantage for much of the game. The Rams also gave West Linn problems with its press and created a bevy of early turnovers to quickly race out to a double-digit lead.

The Lions would trail 38-14 at the half and never recovered in a 70-31 defeat. However, Central Catholic would put up similar results throughout the tournament and cruised to the championship this year.

The Lions then faced Jesuit in the first round of consolation, a perennial powerhouse that has gotten off to a slow start this year.

After a tight first quarter, which saw Jesuit take a 14-11 lead, the Lions blew the game open in the second quarter, using stingy defense to outscore the Crusaders 14-5 in the period to take a six-point lead at the break.

Jesuit applied heavy pressure on the Lions who withstood multiple rallies in the second half. The Crusaders narrowed the gap to three points heading into the fourth quarter.

West Linn responded admirably to the pressure and held a distinct advantage in the paint for much of the game to hold on for a 47-42 victory. Sydney Kolasinski led the way with 13 points and Morgan Haskin added 10.

The Lions then took on a strong Sheldon team and played a game that mirrored the Jesuit victory in many ways.

West Linn fell behind early but quickly righted the ship. The Lions trailed 13-7 after the first quarter but started to heat up from the field in the second period.

The Lions quickly erased the deficit and led 23-21 at the half. Ashley Johnson had a hot night shooting for West Linn and led all scorers with 16 points.

“Every game it was someone different for us who contributed for us,” Lee said.

The Lions continued to play strong defense in the third quarter, holding Sheldon to just seven points and extending the lead to four with one quarter to play.

Julia Boyd-Helm had a strong game on both sides of the court for the Lions, scoring 11 points and locking down her opponent on defense. Genna Hughes also had a strong all-around tournament, giving the Lions a strong presence inside.

Once again, West Linn played smart basketball down the stretch and shot free throws well to keep the Irish at an arm's length, grinding out a 50-44 victory.

The win advanced the Lions into the consolation finals against a strong St. Mary's squad.

St. Mary's started the game out hot with Nae Torregano knocking down four three-pointers in the first quarter.

West Linn trailed by double digits after the first quarter and struggled to slow the Blues down. The Lions cut down their turnovers for the remainder of the game but couldn't cut into the lead significantly.

Johnson had another nice night shooting for the Lions and finished with 15 points but West Linn settled for eighth place with a 70-42 loss.

The Lions came away from the tournament encouraged about how they stack up with some of the state's top teams.

“The kids now know that they can play at a high level,” Lee said.

West Linn will take on Southridge at home tonight (Thursday.)

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