The Lions knock off No. 5 West Salem and Westview with TRL play starting Friday

The West Linn boys basketball team racked up two more wins over quality opponents as it prepares to open league play this Friday against Clackamas.

Last week the Lions held off a late charge from West Salem to top the Titans on the road 70-66. The Lions, who have predominantly been a second-half team this season, took an early lead in this game and had to hold on down the stretch.

West Linn led by three points at the end of the first quarter and a strong defensive second period put the visitors up 40-29 at the half.

But West Salem hung tough, chipping away at the lead and narrowing the gap in the fourth quarter with some clutch shooting.

However, West Linn's strong free throw shooting makes it a tough team to come back on in the final minutes and the Lions held on for the four-point win.

Ryan Shearmire led the way with 26 points while Anthony Mathis, Hayden Coppedge and Ty Cleland all scored in double figures.

On Tuesday West Linn took on Westview and ground out another tough win 64-56. The Lions outscored the Wildcats in every quarter but couldn't shake them until the final minutes.

Both teams started out the game hot. Cleland, Coppedge, Mathis and Jarrod Howard all hit three-pointers for the Lions in the opening quarter.

But West Linn had a handful of early turnovers and Westview was strong on the boards and only trailed 20-19 after the opening period.

“We needed to work a little harder rebounding. At first I think we just thought we could out-jump them,” Mathis said.

Westview would take the lead early in the second quarter as the Lions struggled a bit in the paint, missing a few contested lay-ups.

A three-pointer from Payton Pritchard gave West Linn the lead again but the team was only up 30-28 at the break.

The Lions started to give themselves some breathing room to start the third quarter. Mathis hit two quick shots to key a 9-0 run to open the second half.

“I hit that first shot and then everything started falling,” Mathis said.

Mathis took over in the third quarter, scoring 13 of his team's 19 points in the quarter.

“We started running some sets to (Mathis). He's that kind of kid who can make big plays for you,” coach Eric Viuhkola said.

Shearmire also made an impact in the second half with his defense as the Wildcats continued to battle hard for rebounds.

A late surge by Westview allowed the team to close the gap to 49-43 with one quarter to play. The Lions got off to another strong start in the final period when Howard came up with a terrific steal and assist. The Wildcats hung around but could never close the gap to one possession as the Lions walked away with another victory.

Mathis had 21 points in the game and Shearmire added 11.

West Linn will now gear up for a tough stretch where the team takes on Clackamas in its league opener and then faces Sprague for an afternoon game at the Rose Garden on Saturday.

“I feel really good about where we're at right now but we're still a work in progress,” Viuhkola said.

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