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Lakers fast start to much for West Linn


No. 1 Lake Oswego never trails, handing the Lions their first league loss

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn's Payton Pritchard fends off Lake Oswego's Christian McDonald during the Lions' loss at home on Friday.A fast start by No. 1 Lake Oswego was enough to do West Linn in last Friday in the heavily anticipated first meeting between the two teams this season.

The Lions and Lakers have had one of the best rivalries in the state in boys basketball over the past few seasons, splitting the league title last year and meeting up in the semifinals at the Rose Garden.

On Friday, in front of a standing room only crowd at West Linn High School, the Lakers simply shot the ball too well and had too many weapons for the Lions to contend with in a 81-59 loss.

It was an emotional night as the stands were filled both to watch the match up between two of the state's best teams and to honor Clackamas Town Center shooting victim Steve Forsyth, a West Linn resident who was very active in youth sports in the community and a former Lake Oswego High School graduate.

In many ways, the game mirrored last season's semifinal match-up. Lake Oswego opened the game on fire from the field, hitting its first six shots as the Lions struggled to keep up.

Calvin Hermanson, the defending 6A player of the year, played in the game despite still recovering from a high ankle sprain but his effectiveness was limited.

In the first quarter, Colin Caslick did the damage for the Lakers, scoring eight points including a pair of three-pointers.

West Linn's Ryan Shearmire countered with a pair of three-pointers late in the quarter to keep the Lions in the game early, trailing 21-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Then the Laker's signature defense started to lock West Linn down. The Lions struggled to work the ball inside for much of the game and, in the second period, West Linn was held without a field goal for the first six minutes of play. Ty Cleland had West Linn's only two field goals in the quarter.

Meanwhile, the Lakers' Connor Griffin took over for his team, playing active defense and scoring seven points in the period while Lake Oswego built a 36-20 advantage at the break.

Lake Oswego opened the second half the way it started the game, with a Daniel Verburg three-pointer, extending the lead to nearly 20 points.

But Anthony Mathis started to heat up for West Linn and his eight points in the quarter helped cut the lead to 12 points.

However, Verburg answered with another three-pointer and West Linn was whistled for a loose ball foul after the shot, giving the Lakers possession again as the lead swelled to 54-37 with one period to play.

West Linn wasn't quite finished, as two three-pointers from Hayden Coppedge sparked an early run which cut the lead to nine. But that's as close as West Linn would get.

The Lakers were effective in closing out the game, hitting free throws down the stretch to stay unbeaten on the year.

West Linn will face Canby at home on Friday.